Election 2012

Michele Bachmann wins re-election in a tight race

Michele Bachmann wins re-election in a tight race

The votes weren’t fully tabulated until Wednesday afternoon, but former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was able to hold her seat in the House of Representatives, narrowly defeating Democrat Jim Graves.  There was some discussion of a recount, given the close margin of victory – “just over 3,000 votes out of nearly 350,000 votes cast,” according to the Washington Post.

“It has truly been an honor and a privilege to represent the people of Minnesota’s Sixth District in Congress, and I am humbled that they have placed their trust in me for another term,” said Bachmann in a statement.  ”I am extremely grateful to my dedicated volunteers for spending countless hours knocking on doors and making phone calls.  I pledge to continue to work everyday to create jobs and do everything I can to make life more affordable for Minnesota’s families.  Our children and grandchildren deserve a future filled with opportunity in a country that is safe and secure, and that’s what I’m fighting for in Washington.”

This is a good opportunity to look at Ann Coulter’s assertion that “no mere House member is ever going to be elected president” and “most of them harm their political careers by running,” a prophecy of doom she backed up by citing Bachmann’s tough race and the evaporation of Thad McCotter.

I think she’s right, for a number of reasons, one of them being the different skill set required to win races in relatively small, focused House districts, as opposed to facing statewide audiences to win Senate races or gubernatorial offices.  Ann has said Republican presidential nominees should be governors; I think some Senators can do it, particularly if they’ve been successful in swing states.  The strength and weakness of a governor will always be his executive record, which provides both credentials and avenues of attack, as we saw with both Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Newt Gingrich was one of the rare House members with the mojo to play on a national stage, and of course it didn’t work out for him.  The way his House career played into the election was instructive: when your background includes long stints in Congress, it will inevitably include votes that can be brought back to conflict with a current presidential narrative.  That happens with senators too – it happened to Barack Obama in several notable instances, but his relatively short and inactive Senate career, combined with the way political “rules” tend to warp around him, carried him through.  Maybe a short Senate career is the best congressional launch pad for a presidential run.  Can you think of anyone with presidential appeal who will be coming from a short Senate career in 2016?

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