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Primary Election Day in Minnesota

In Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, two Republican candidates are challenging incumbent Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater — Sartell college professor Aubrey Immelman and Lino Lakes computer consultant Stephen Thompson.

8-14-12 — A primary referendum on Bachmann

Michele Bachmann . . . Aubrey Immelman . . . Stephen Thompson

League of Women Voters 6th Congressional District Voter Guide


Where to vote

Visit to use the online Polling Place Finder tool at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. When you enter your address, the tool will return important voting information for your precinct, including your polling place (where you vote, map, and directions), districts for your precinct (including maps), and a list of candidates on the ballot.

How the primary works

Minnesota has an open primary system, which means there is no party registration and voters may vote in the primary of any political party. Thus, irrespective of whether voters consider themselves Republican, Democrat, Independent, or unaffiliated with any political party, they may vote in the primary of any party where they think they could make the greatest difference, but once they’ve made their choice, they may vote only in that party’s column on the ballot.

The graphic below, modified by U.S. Senate candidate Bob Carney Jr. from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, shows a sample primary ballot. In this example, the voter — who could be a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or an unaffiliated voter — chose to make the Republican primary a referendum on Bachmann and voted in that column only, as required under Minnesota election law.

For official information, visit, a website created by the Secretary of State’s office to answer a broad range of voting questions.

Acknowledgment: The information on where to vote and a portion of the description of how the primary works, with the exception of the sample ballot graphic and explanation, was compiled from the websites of the St. Cloud Times and the Minnesota Secretary of State.


Minnesota’s 6th District revolt against Bachmann will be tweeted.

To join the advance, follow Aubrey Immelman (@A_Immelman) on Twitter and retweet. … Twitter barrage will continue from dawn to dusk. … This is a call to action. … All hands RT. … Hashtags #MN06 #MNPrimary … Dateline Aug. 14, 2012 … Election Day.



Minnesota Primary Results LIVE: Michele Bachmann Faces Rivals in GOP Primary

By Chris Miles
PolicyMic — Next Generation News and Politics
August 14, 2012

Voters in Minnesota will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote in Republican primaries and a string of state and local elections.

The most high-profile race involves Tea Party Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Bachmann faces a lukewarm threat from Aubrey Immelman, a psychology professor, and Stephen Thompson, a computer consultant.

Immelman and Thompson both call their candidacies referendums on Bachmann. As the St. Cloud Times reports, with Bachmann as widely known and well-funded as ever, it would stun the political world if she encounters more than a speed bump in the primary. …

Statewide turnout was expected to be low. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has predicted less than 15 percent of eligible voters will participate. …

Full story


8/16/2012 Update

Bachmann Scores Weakest Minnesota GOP US House Incumbent Primary Win in 50 Years

The last time a Republican incumbent won a lower percentage of the vote in a Gopher State U.S. House primary was 1962

By Eric Ostermeier
Center for the Study of Politics and Governance
Humphrey School of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota
August 16, 2012


Despite seeking higher office earlier this year, and receiving significant negative reaction from the media and GOP colleagues over the past month in connection with her request for an investigation of radical Muslims infiltrating the federal government, there was little doubt Michele Bachmann would easily walk away from Tuesday’s GOP 6th congressional district primary with a victory [links added].

And she did.

But despite winning by a comfortable margin, opposition to the three-term congresswoman was nonetheless at its highest level in generations for a Republican U.S. Representative from Minnesota.

A Smart Politics analysis finds Michele Bachmann’s 80.4 percent primary vote total on Tuesday was the smallest vote percentage received by a Republican member of the U.S. House from the Gopher State since 1962 spanning 75 incumbent reelection bids.

Representative Bachmann faced two challengers en route to her 80.4 percent tally in the 6th CD primary: Stephen Thompson came in second with 12.8 percent and frequent Bachmann critic and opponent Aubrey Immelman received 6.9 percent [links added].

The last time a Republican incumbent U.S. Representative from Minnesota fared worse than Bachmann on Tuesday was 50 years ago, when Herman Carl Andersen sought reelection to a 13th term. …

Over the next 25 cycles since the Election of 1964 — which includes 75 Republican incumbents running for reelection — no Minnesota GOP U.S. Representative received a lower vote total than Bachmann’s 80.4 percent on Tuesday.

In fact, most candidates never even faced a challenger, with 63 of these incumbents running unopposed during this span.

Of the remaining dozen who faced at least one primary opponent, only Bachmann failed to receive 85 percent of the vote — and she barely eclipsed 80 percent.

Overall, the average tally by these congressional incumbents facing primary challengers was 89.3 percent excluding Bachmann’s 2012 performance.

Congresswoman Bachmann also owns the third lowest primary tally over the last 50 years with her 85.9 percent performance in the 2008 primary against fellow 2012 candidate Aubrey Immelman [link added].

Of course, it is possible that some of Bachmann’s depressed vote in 2008 and 2012 was not simply due to Republicans who disapproved of her job performance, but also independents and Democrats.

Still, Representative Bachmann is the only incumbent to inspire two fellow Republicans to run against her in a primary since the mid 1950s.

The last time a sitting GOP U.S. Representative from Minnesota faced two challengers at the primary stage was 1956 when 8-term incumbent Joseph O’Hara was opposed by Alf Swenson and Walter Muhlenhardt.

O’Hara received 69.9 percent of the vote with 22.7 percent for Swenson and 7.4 percent for Muhlenhardt.

Minnesota’s other incumbents facing primary opponents Tuesday were Erik Paulsen in the 3rd CD (90.2 percent), Keith Ellison in the 5th (89.6 percent), John Kline in the 2nd (85.1 percent), and Betty McCollum in the 4th (84.2 percent).

Lowest Primary Vote Percentage
for Republican Minnesota U.S. Representatives, 1964-2012

Michele Bachmann
John Kline
Michele Bachmann

Table compiled by Smart Politics with data culled from Minnesota Legislative Manuals and the Minnesota Secretary of State. See the complete 1964-2012 data set at Smart Politics.

Full report


Related report

Could Bachmann Lose?

Tuesday’s primary results could spell trouble ahead for the Tea Party queen

August 16, 2012

In just three terms, Rep. Michele Bachmann has become an institution in the House, raising more money than any of her colleagues in either party and serving as the face of the insurgent Tea Party movement in Washington. With a massive war chest, a huge national following, and close allies with very big microphones, she seems unstoppable — so much so that she was at one point a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. But despite all that, there is a real possibility that Bachmann could lose her reelection bid this November.

Tuesday was the Republican primary for her congressional seat, and while Bachmann sailed through, there were some signs in the results that may give her campaign pause. Smart Politics, a blog of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, noted that Bachmann’s win of 80.4 percent of the primary vote was the smallest vote percentage received by an incumbent Republican congressman in the state since 1962 — that covers 75 incumbent reelection bids in 50 years. This could suggest that Republican voters in the district have cooled on Bachmann.

Indeed, she’s drawn sharp GOP rebukes on Capitol Hill for her witch hunt against Muslims in the U.S. government, and it stands to reason that some Republicans in her district have also been turned off by the effort (her Republican primary challengers slammed her for it). The remaining roughly 20 percent of the vote went to two GOP opponents — Smart Politics notes that she’s the only incumbent Republican to inspire two fellow party members to challenge her since the mid-1950s.

There’s been scant polling in the district, but a June survey commissioned by her Democratic challenger, Jim Graves, found Bachmann with a dangerously narrow lead. “Bachmann’s unsuccessful bid for president had a clear and negative impact on her standing among voters in the new Minnesota 6 CD. She received low marks on both her job performance and personal favorability,” pollster Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner found. …

In an interview last month, Graves pointed out to Salon that Bachmann has benefited in the past two cycles from third-party challengers who have disproportionately syphoned votes from the Democratic candidate. Minnesota Public Radio political writer Bob Collins called Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson — who took over 10 percent of the vote in 2008 — “Michele Bachmann’s best friend” because he paved the way for her reelection. Bachmann won by just 3 points that year. In 2010, her margin was bigger, but it was a wave election for Republicans and Bachmann had managed to avoid major controversy ahead of the election. That year, Anderson, who ran again, took about 6 percent of the vote.

This year, there is no major third-party candidate, giving Bachmann her first head-to-head race since her election. …

Graves also expects to get a boost from sharing the ticket with Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the state’s most popular politician, whom he expects to win the district, despite its Republican tilt. Add to that a strong Democratic candidate with healthy fundraising and the option to self-fund (he said he has no plans to tap into his wealth) and Democrats feel good. “Now, we’re very confident,” Graves told Salon.

Full story

 Related video

Could Michele Bachmann lose her job come November? (MSNBC “The Ed Show,” Aug. 17, 2012) — New numbers show Michele Bachmann in danger of losing her house seat this November. Ed Schultz takes a look at Bachmann’s rhetoric and talks with her Democratic challenger, Jim Graves. (04:54)


Many Democrats hold firm to the belief that Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson cost the DFL the 2008 election in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District (Bachmann, 46.4%; Tinklenberg, 43.4%; Anderson, 10%). However, when you crunch the numbers, the empirical support just isn’t there, or is weak at best.

For Tinklenberg to have defeated Bachmann in a hypothetical two-way race, we would first have to assume that all of Anderson’s 40,643 voters (a) would have turned out at the polls and (b) expressed a preference for either Tinklenberg or Bachmann (as opposed to, say, spoiling the ballot writing in a candidate).

Second, for Tinklenberg to have won, he would have had to gain two out of every three Anderson votes, which would have given him a narrow 50.1 percent to 49.7 percent victory over Bachmann. However, that flies in the face of the well-documented pattern that undecided voters tend to break for the incumbent — in this case, Bachmann.

Even if Tinklenberg and Bachmann had split the Anderson vote 50-50 in a hypothetical two-way race, Bachmann would still have won, 51.4 percent to 48.5 percent.


10/25/2012 Update

‘Tracker Mike’ and Other Tales: Can Bachmann Survive Toughest Test?

Michele Bachmann is running for a fourth term representing her Minnesota district in Congress.
Michele Bachmann is running for a fourth term representing her Minnesota district in Congress. (Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images file via CNN)

By Wayne Drash

October 24, 2012

Annandale, Minnesota (CNN) — Jim Graves strolled down Main Street in his pressed shirt with French cuffs and skinny jeans, a dapper enigma in a land of flannels and Wranglers. …

Graves isn’t gunning for just any seat. He’s the Democratic challenger to Michele Bachmann, the firebrand darling of the tea party running for a fourth term.

New to the political scene, Graves doesn’t mince words. Bachmann is running scared, he told me, avoiding him at all costs and refusing to debate him until a week before the November election. …

I traveled to the 6th District of Minnesota to meet both candidates and take the pulse of the race. Bible verses course through the veins of most residents, from the evangelical base in suburban Blaine — just north of the Twin Cities — through the rural countryside on northward to the Catholics of St. Cloud, a city anchored by several colleges.

The district … is highly Republican, very conservative and nearly all white. But even in her home base, there’s no shortage of opinion of Bachmann.

Defender of the Constitution. Nut job. Saint. Ol’ Miss Crazy Eyes.

You hear it all.

“I hope she gets her ass kicked,” said one Minnesotan, one of the few dissenters who met Bachmann during one of her campaign stops. …

This summer, Bachmann angered Democrats — and even some Republicans — when she suggested the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the U.S. government under Obama. She’s unabashed and unapologetic, saying the recent unrest in Libya, Egypt and the Mideast only underscores her conviction.

“I’ve been proven right in the tragic events of this last month. The Muslim Brotherhood is not the Lutheran Brotherhood,” she told Minnesota Public Radio reporter Conrad Wilson during a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in St. Cloud. …

Democrats believe Graves, 59, poses the best challenge yet to Bachmann, especially because there is no independent in the race. In Bachmann’s closest race, in 2008, she won 46% to 43% against her Democratic rival, with an independent getting 10% of the vote. In 2010, Bachmann stomped her Democratic opponent by 13 percentage points.

If Bachmann has alienated independents and socially liberal Republicans while seeking higher office, Democrats hope those voters will gravitate toward Graves. He sounds Republican on many fiscal issues, and because he’s never held public office he doesn’t have a voting record that could be skewered by conservatives. …

That hasn’t stopped an avalanche of spin. Bachmann ads have dubbed him Big Spending Jim in lockstep with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, whose name here is treated with lips curled, like the dirtiest of words. The Bachmann camp has even launched a website,

“I don’t care what Michele Bachmann calls me,” Graves said. “In business there’s a term for smoke and mirrors: It’s called bankruptcy. You don’t play around with budgets. You’re serious about them. … The last thing we want in a salesperson is somebody who goes and divides and separates and antagonizes and lacks civility and throws verbal grenades at different people, because that doesn’t help get the thing done.” …

It’s impossible to know just how close the race is, though apparently it’s tightening. Two non-partisan political handicappers — the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report — have moved their ranking of the contest from likely Republican earlier this year to now lean Republican.

Polling from the Graves campaign last month showed Bachmann with a 2-percentage point lead, 48%-46%, a statistical dead heat because it’s within the margin of error. The Bachmann campaign refused to disclose its polling; the congresswoman acknowledged it’s a tough race, but one she expects to win. …

When you’re challenging a political heavyweight, your every move is followed. Literally. The Graves campaign has dubbed their stalker “Tracker Mike,” a fresh-faced college grad and Bachmann supporter who stands about 5 feet away from Graves at events with a handheld video camera. Anything to catch him in a gotcha moment …

If the Bachmann campaign is a well-oiled, well-financed machine, the Graves’ camp is very much a family affair, largely run out of their hybrid vehicles, which overflow with buttons and other campaign material. His son, Adam, took a sabbatical from teaching religious thought at Metropolitan State University of Denver to run his father’s campaign. He has begun calling his dad “Jim” to sound more professional, but admits it’s weird. …

Bachmann rose to the front of the GOP presidential pack in August 2011 after winning a straw poll in Iowa. Months later, she dropped out after a poor finish in the Iowa caucuses.

Now, back home, she’s basking in the district’s anti-establishment beliefs. The more she’s mocked by Jon Stewart, the more New York Times op-eds condemn her beliefs, the more her base rallies. …

In the 6th District, it’s easy to see why she’s loved by many. She’s charismatic, engaging, even charming to complete strangers. When she walks into a room, all eyes turn toward her. She sticks out her hand and introduces herself: “Hi, I’m Michele.”

She spun through St. Cloud for a quick hit on a conservative radio show, “Ox in the Afternoon,” where she picked up the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. While at the radio station, she criticized the administration for underestimating the turmoil in the Mideast, for spending “billions and billions more staying in a lost cause” in Afghanistan, and for budgetary overspending.

“That’s the real problem in America right now,” she told the radio audience. “Government has no interest or willingness to balance its books. … All of us have to. Only the federal government keeps trying to figure out ways to print money it doesn’t have, and that puts all of us at risk.”

She then toured a high-tech business and hobnobbed with powerful Republicans before settling in with supporters to watch the first presidential debate at a call center in the town of St. Michael. There were hisses and gasps when Obama spoke, cheers when Romney offered up his beat-down.

That same night, her opponent hosted Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat despised by Bachmann. She’s seeking to repeal Dodd-Frank, the set of banking reforms that Obama pushed for and Congress passed in the wake of the nation’s financial crisis.

“So, this is my opponent’s new mentor in Congress,” Bachmann said, working her supporters into a frenzy of “Wowwwwwwws.”

“Thank God, Barney Frank is timing out,” she said, referring to Frank’s decision not to run for re-election.

The crowd clung to her every word, ready for her looming showdown with Graves. She loved the moment, said it was inspiring to be home. …

Graves and Bachmann are on a collision course for their first of three debates, beginning October 30. …

Full story


8/10/2016 Update

Emmer’s Primary Win Was Historically Weak

Rep. Tom Emmer (Photo: U.S. House Office of Photography)

By Kirsti Marohn
St. Cloud Times
August 10, 2016


U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer’s primary win over two Republican challengers was the smallest victory of an incumbent GOP congressman in more than 50 years, according to a University of Minnesota political analyst.

Before Tuesday, no incumbent Minnesota Republican U.S. House member had won less than 80 percent of the primary vote since 1962, according to the report by Eric Ostermeier, founder of the nonpartisan blog Smart Politics and a research associate at the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Emmer won the primary handily with 68.7 percent of the vote. AJ Kern, a Sauk Rapids business owner who has been critical of Emmer’s positions on immigration, refugee policy and trade, received 26.5 percent. Patrick Munro came in a distant third with 4.9 percent.

Despite Emmer’s victory, more people by percentage voted against him than any other Republican incumbent member of Congress from Minnesota in 54 years, Ostermeier said.

Among lawmakers of both parties, Emmer’s win was the fifth-lowest out of 49 contested primaries since 1964, Ostermeier said. The only members of Minnesota’s U.S. House delegation to receive less support were DFLers Jim Oberstar in 1980 and 1984, Martin Sabo in 1992 and Gerry Sikorski in 1992. …

[Ostermeier] noted that Emmer has taken some heat in his first term from tea party conservatives for his moderate stance on some policy issues. Although Emmer still beat Kern by more than 40 points, the votes for his opponents are “enough to suggest that there is a rumbling of discontent among the base,” Ostermeier said. …

Read the full story reader comments at the St. Cloud Times


Related report on this site

Minnesota 6th Congressional District Polling and Analysis (Aug. 9, 2012)

4 Responses to “Primary Election Day in MN-06: Bachmann Faces Challenge by Immelman and Thompson”
  1. Immelman vs. Bachmann » Blog Archive » Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Reelection Campaign for Congress Says:

    […] Bachmann Scores Worst Incumbent Primary Win in 50 Years (Aug. 14, 2012) […]

  2. Immelman vs. Bachmann » Blog Archive » Michele Bachmann’s ‘Unproven Allegations’ and ‘Twisted Facts’ Says:

    […] Ten Reasons Why Republicans Should Vote Michele Bachmann Out of Office (Aug. 14, 2012) […]

  3. Immelman vs. Bachmann » Blog Archive » Minnesota 6th Congressional District Polling and Analysis Says:

    […] It’s reasonable to assume that the Bachmann campaign has commissioned its own surveys. The fact that none have been released suggests that Bachmann’s numbers also do not bode well for her. Meanwhile, she underperformed in her Republican primary last month. […]

  4. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Bachmann Hangs It Up; Retires from Congress, But Not Politics Says:

    […] Bachmann Scores Worst Incumbent Primary Win in 50 Years (Aug. 14, 2012) […]

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