Hours after Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., announced her retirement from Congress, a host of potential GOP candidates emerged as possible successors for the 6th District.
Interviews with Minnesota and national Republicans yielded the following potential GOP candidates:
- Former state Rep. Tom Emmer: He won the Republican nomination for governor in 2010 but lost to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Emmer is now a radio personality in Minneapolis.
- State Rep. Peggy Scott: A fierce conservative who consultants said has tried to brand herself as “Bachmann 2.0.”
- Former state Rep. Phil Krinkie: He unsuccessfully challenged Bachmann for the state GOP’s endorsement for Congress in 2006.
Bachmann’s retirement comes as good news for Republicans. She won re-election by a meager 1-point margin in 2012 and was a top target for Democrats going into this cycle. Bachmann’s 2012 opponent, hotel magnate Jim Graves, already announced he is running again this cycle.
The 6th District, which includes the Minneapolis exurbs, is a GOP stronghold and was redrawn to be more favorable to conservative candidates following redistricting last cycle. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district in 2012 with 56 percent.
Given the district’s composition, consultants mentioned several more Republicans who could run for the seat if they are interested:
- Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah: She unsuccessfully ran for the lieutenant governor nomination in 2010.
- State Rep. Matt Dean: He served as majority leader before Republicans lost control of the House in 2012. Dean currently lives in the 4th District but was a 6th District resident for many years.
- State House Minority Whip Tim Sanders.
- Former state Rep. Jim Knoblach: He ran in the Republican primary for the 6th District in 2006.
- State Rep. Linda Runbeck.
- State Sen. Michelle Benson: She’s also an accountant from the Twin Cities area.
- State Sen. Michelle Fischbach: She served as president of the legislative body until the GOP lost control of that chamber last cycle.
- Former Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer: She was elected to the state House in 2012.
In Minnesota, Republican candidates vie for the state Republican Party’s endorsement several months before the primary. Often, candidates will drop out of the primary if they do not have the party’s support — although the endorsement is nonbinding. Bachmann won the party endorsement in 2006, when then-Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., announced he was running for Senate.
To win the endorsement, operatives said candidates must start collecting activist support as soon as possible. So it’s likely candidates will announce their campaigns as soon as in the next 10 days.
Graves spokeswoman Julie Pearl said Bachmann’s retirement does not change the way Graves will run in the race, nor does the campaign feel it hampers his election chances.
“This serves to show that even Rep. Bachmann is hearing that Minnesota’s 6th is ready for a new, business-oriented approach,” Pearl said. “As recent polling indicates, our message is resonating with the people of the 6th District and she recognized that.”