Rep. Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she’s suspending her Congressional re-election campaign while seeking the presidency did not produce the flurry of activity one might expect for a presumably open House seat.
That’s in part because Bachmann is leaving her options open, and Minnesota Republicans are hanging back to see how she performs in 2012.
Bachmann, who declared her long-expected White House bid Monday night during a GOP debate, said her House campaign would be put on hold as she woos voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in hopes of nabbing the party nod to challenge President Barack Obama.
If Bachmann fails to do well in the early GOP primary contests in the first months of 2012, she would have plenty of time to jump back into the race for her seat in the North Star State’s 6th district. A spokeswoman for the Minnesota secretary of state’s office told Roll Call that the filing period for Congressional candidates ends June 5.
David FitzSimmons, chairman of the 6th district Republican Party, told Roll Call that even though anyone could run for the seat, Bachmann has only suspended her campaign for the House while engaged in her White House bid.
“At any point and time, the ‘while’ could change,” he said.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton said he wouldn’t be too hasty in considering Bachmann’s district an open seat.
“I respect the fact that Congresswoman Bachmann is running for president, but I think it would be premature until we see how the presidential campaign goes,” he said Tuesday in an interview. “She may, depending on how things go, decide she wants to run for Congress if things don’t go as she plans.”
Sutton said there were a number of people who might be interested in running for the seat. He said the list of GOP politicians living in the district is long: state Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, Senate President Michelle Fischbach, 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer and Anoka County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah.
Emmer, an attorney and radio host, said in an interview that he believes Bachmann “is going to be our Congresswoman until further notice.” Lauding her service, he left open the possibility he would run if Bachmann did not. “I’d be more than open to talk about it, but it’s way down the road and you got redistricting that’s an issue,” he said.
A court is likely to redraw the state’s Congressional districts since a map passed by the Republican Legislature was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Minnesota insiders say that process will be complete by next February.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is the only other House Member seeking the presidency. His campaign said he is also running for re-election to his House seat.
It is rare for a politician to look at a White House run while keeping her eye on another office. In one example, then-Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said he would be retiring from his seat in 2008 regardless of his performance in the GOP presidential primary. However, there have been exceptions on the Senate side. Recent vice presidential nominees Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Joseph Biden (D-Del.) won re-election to their respective Senate seats the years they were on the presidential ticket.