Minnesota Delegation Not Rushing to Back Bachmann

Posted August 15, 2011 at 11:02pm

The Minnesota delegation’s 2012 support is suddenly up for grabs, but whether the only Minnesotan left in the 2012 GOP presidential race can capture those endorsements is far from decided.

Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen, two of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s (R) most prominent Capitol Hill backers, haven’t sprinted to support their home-state colleague Rep. Michele Bachmann since Pawlenty abruptly ended his candidacy Sunday.

Rep. Chip Cravaack (R), a conservative who would appear to be more aligned with Bachmann’s ideals than the former governor, hasn’t rushed to her side either.

When Bachmann sought the House Republican Conference chairmanship, she had votes from her two best friends and her home team GOP delegation. But according to Roll Call’s analysis of Member endorsements, despite becoming the first woman — and Minnesotan — to win the Ames straw poll, she stands alone.

Spokesmen for Kline and Paulsen did not respond Monday to requests for comment on whether they would back Bachmann.

Cravaack spokesman Michael Bars was elusive, telling Roll Call in an email simply: “Nothing to report.”

Pressed whether this meant Cravaack was pondering an endorsement or had decided not to endorse Bachmann at all, Bars doubled down on his enigmatic response. “There is nothing to report whatsoever,” he said. “Chip’s focused on the 8th [district].”

Former Rep. Vin Weber (R), who held the 6th district seat Bachmann now holds and served as an unofficial adviser for the Pawlenty campaign, told Roll Call he would endorse another candidate at some point.

Weber, who publicly apologized after telling the Hill last month that Bachmann’s “sex appeal” was among the things that could help her in Iowa, said in a phone interview that he would look for a candidate who could articulate a hopeful economic message. But he didn’t mention Bachmann.

“I’m going to think it over a little bit and let the dust settle,” he said.

David M. Drucker contributed to this report.