by Dennis Dalman
A former St. Cloud resident, Jim Graves, was endorsed last Saturday as the DFL candidate to challenge incumbent Rep. Michele Bachmann for Minnesota’s 6th District congressional seat in the Nov. 6 election.
Graves, who was endorsed at the 6th District DFL Convention in Blaine, is the owner of Graves Hospitality, a company that builds and maintains upscale hotels. In the 1970s he founded the AmericInn chain of motels, but he sold that chain in 1993. Graves lives in Minneapolis. He graduated from Cathedral High School and studied at St. Cloud State University.
Two other DFL contenders said at the convention they would support Graves’ campaign to win the 6th District congressional seat. Those contenders are Anne Nolan of St. Cloud, an attorney and workplace consultant; and Brian McGoldrick, a restaurant owner in Stillwater.
The 6th Congressional District, known as the most conservative in Minnesota, runs from some of the suburbs of the Twin Cities northwest along the Mississippi River corridor to the greater St. Cloud area (including St. Joseph). It is the largest metro area in the district.
Bachmann, a Republican from Stillwater, is no longer in the 6th District because of the recent redistricting process, although by law a candidate/representative need not live in the district he or she represents. In fact, Graves himself, who lives in Minneapolis, does not live within the 6th District.
Most political experts have said challenging Bachmann for her congressional seat will be an uphill challenge for two main reasons. The district tends to be solidly conservative, and Bachmann, who enjoys widespread name recognition locally as well as nationally, can depend upon a huge campaign war chest from far and wide.
Bachmann, who has announced she will definitely run again, is now serving her third term in the congressional seat. She defeated Patty Wetterling in 2006, Elwyn Tinklenberg in 2008 and Tarryl Clark in 2010.
Graves told supporters at the convention he will soon make details of his campaign policy positions known as he organizes a campaign staff. At this point, he has spoken in favor of a free-enterprise approach “with a level playing field.” He has also talked about the importance of strengthening the middle class and making quality education, affordable health care and livable wages as the foundations of a strong future for the country. Graves has noted he favors same-sex marriage and pro-choice policies on abortion. Graves has never run previously for a political office, although he has contributed money to DFL campaigns. He has said his experience in business would stand him in good stead in helping improve the economy, in coming up with innovative approaches to governing and in policy problem-solving.
Even though Graves describes himself as “moderate” in some of his policy positions, the difference between him and Bachmann are as stark as can be. Bachmann, an outspoken opponent of what she calls “big government,” has been sharply critical of most Democrat-engineered programs of the past, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. She is fiercely opposed to policies proposed or implemented by Pres. Barack Obama, especially his Affordable Care Act, which she vows to help repeal. Bachmann said she would like to disconnect the United States in most ways from the “global economy,” she would like more oil drilling and more nuclear energy in the country and she is in favor of enforcement of current immigration laws. She is strongly anti-abortion and is against legalizing same-sex marriage.
Bachmann is widely regarded as the inspiration of the Tea Party, whose caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives she founded.
She has been criticized for spending too much time in her futile campaign for the Republican presidential candidacy and for not sufficiently representing the residents of her district. Her supporters, however, claim her campaigning helped broaden her political knowledge and expertise, making her more powerful in speaking up on behalf of her constituents.