by Mark Sommerhauser, email@example.com, St. Cloud Times
House race between Bachmann and Graves a 2-party contest without Independence candidate
Voters will have no third major-party option this year in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District race.
Independence Party of Minnesota candidates have been on the November ballot in the last three 6th District elections. But the 2012 filing period closed last week without an Independence Party candidate emerging in the 6th District, meaning just the two major-party candidates will be on this year’s ballot.
One is likely to be GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, and the other will be DFLer Jim Graves.
Graves and the Independence Party’s 2010 gubernatorial candidate, Tom Horner, say the one-on-one match will benefit Graves.
“I am confident that I will capture the independent voters, being a moderate, pro-business candidate that knows how to get the district back to work,” Graves said in a news release.
A Bachmann spokesman didn’t return requests for comment Friday.
Horner, who’s a Graves supporter, says the absence of an Independence Party candidate in this year’s 6th District race “creates a different dynamic.”
“I think that’s going to make a huge difference,” Horner said. “It’s the opportunity to compare and contrast two candidates, head to head.”
Graves’ release noted that Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson got about 10 percent of the vote in the 2008 6th District election, in which Bachmann beat Democrat El Tinklenberg by about 3 percentage points.
But Anderson, who ran again in 2010 and got just less than 6 percent of the vote, had conservative-leaning views on most issues. It’s not clear if the same voters who supported him would back a Democrat such as Graves.
Voters in the 6th District have a reputation for being willing to consider third-party candidates. In 1998, voters in what are now the core counties of the 6th District — Anoka, Benton, Sherburne, Stearns and Wright — were key in electing Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Kay Wolsborn, a political-science professor at College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, says there’s no clear answer on who benefits from this year’s head-to-head matchup in the 6th District.
Wolsborn said the three-term Bachmann, a former presidential candidate and national tea party star, isn’t likely to be a voter’s second choice. Most will support or oppose her strongly, Wolsborn said.
But Wolsborn added that Graves is clearly the underdog in the campaign. After this year’s redistricting, most observers agree the 6th District — already Minnesota’s most conservative — became even more GOP-friendly.
“I think (Bachmann) will get the same folks voting for her that voted for her before,” Wolsborn said. “And that will probably be enough.”
Bachmann faces primary challenges from two Republicans, Aubrey Immelman of Sartell and Stephen Thompson of Lino Lakes, but isn’t expected to have trouble securing the GOP nomination.