On Thursday, May 7, 2009 the St. Cloud Times reported that Dr. Maureen Reed, 2006 Independence Party candidate for lieutenant governor, filed federal documents allowing her to raise money to run on the Democratic ticket in 2010 for the 6th Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (“Reed to challenge Bachmann for House seat,” May 7, 2009).
In the report, the Times quoted Reed as saying, “People say this race can be won and will be won with a tight, concerted effort by both parties [the IP and the DFL] to back a moderate candidate,” she said. “I think I’m the perfect candidate for the district.”
(More later on my strategy to defeat Bachmann.)
Following Reed’s announcement, “Elwyn Tinklenberg, last year’s  DFL- and Independence Party-endorsed candidate, said he would seek a rematch with Bachmann in 2010 as well,” according to the Times report.
Last November, Bachmann won re-election with a plurality of 46.3 percent of the vote in a congressional district that gave Republican contender John McCain, with 53 percent, the largest vote percentage over Barack Obama of any of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts and putting it strongly in the Republican column in the Cook Political Report.
The Times report concludes by noting that “Aubrey Immelman, a College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University psychology professor who challenged Bachmann in the Republican primary and later as a write-in candidate, said late last month that he hasn’t decided whether to take on Bachmann again.”
I told Gannett Washington Bureau political reporter Larry Bivens on April 23 that Bachmann is vulnerable, but not to a Democrat.
“I think Rep. Bachmann can be defeated,” Immelman said, “but only in a Republican primary.”
On Thursday, May 7, Doug Grow reported in the MinnPost (“Update: The line forms in the middle for candidates eager to take on Michele Bachmann”) that “Reed’s approach will be little different from Tinklenberg’s. She will offer herself as the candidate in the middle, a self-described ‘Blue Dog Democrat.’ ”
Grow then outlined some unique challenges for any Democrat facing off against Bachmann, including the fact that Bachmann’s “wildly controversial statements … don’t seem to hurt her,” instead turning her into “a money-raising machine”; and the fact that “Bachmann never has lost the devotion of her base, the social conservatives from fundamentalist churches.”
My point of view
My rationale for challenging Bachmann in the 2008 Republican primary was to probe the numerical strength of Bachmann’s core constituency — true believers willing to turn out at the polls to protect Bachmann from a challenge by a non-base Republican.
The answer: fewer than 20,000 of the more than 430,000 registered voters in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District.
In my opinion, the correct strategy to defeat Bachmann flows logically from that determination: mobilize 20,000 voters from across the political spectrum, including moderate, non-base Republicans; independents; and Democrats to prevent Bachmann from getting out of the gate in Minnesota’s 2010 open primary.
If Bachmann makes it through the primary and onto the November general election ballot, she’ll draw support from a much broader constituency: the Republican and Republican-leaning 6th District majority that simply will not vote for a Democrat.
If Bachmann makes it through the gate, her constituency jumps tenfold from fewer than 20,000 hardcore primary supporters to nearly 200,000 – the majority of which is soft support, but nonetheless an insurmountable obstacle for Democrats, who make up less than 40 percent of Sixth District voters.
If Bachmann advances beyond the 2010 Republican primary, she is virtually assured of being returned to Congress for two more years in the November 2010 general election.
MinnPost quotes Maureen Reed as saying, “I want to concentrate on the things that matter most to people day in and day out … the economy, health care, jobs.”
When the widely respected Patty Wetterling — who enjoys near-universal name recognition in Minnesota – campaigned on exactly those Democratic issues against a non-incumbent Bachmann in 2006, it garnered her 42 percent of the vote.
For those who want to see Bachmann disappear from the political landscape, it’s important to understand that the issues championed by Democratic candidates will not receive a rational hearing in Minnesota’s 6th District as long as the debate is framed by Bachmann and her fundamentalist base.
As long as Bachmann is the incumbent Republican candidate, 6th District politics will be framed by identity politics, social conservatism, and the culture wars.
To use a medical metaphor (a nod to Dr. Reed), Bachmann must be surgically removed by invasive, radical intervention before we can even begin to consider the treatment regimen implicit in the policy options proposed by Democratic candidates.
I offer such a plan to defeat Michele Bachmann in 2010.
As long as Bachmann is on the Republican ticket, the political fortunes of the 6th District will be governed by human irrationality, not the give-and-take of reasoned political discourse.
Yes, we can sit down and have a rational, meaningful discussion about what’s best for Minnesota’s 6th District, but only when Bachmann is removed from her seat at the table.
Related reports on this site
Bachmann’s Seat Safe (May 17, 2010)
Building a Non-Partisan Coalition (Aug. 5, 2009)
Can a Democrat Beat Bachmann? (July 27, 2009)
As shown in the table below, the September 2008 Minnesota state primary election result predicted the outcome of the November general election to within one percentage point. The only significant shift in numbers is that without Immelman on the ballot in the general election, his share of the vote went to third-party candidate Anderson.
Bob Anderson 2.0% 10.0%
El Tinklenberg 43.1% 43.4%
Election 2012 update
You must be logged in to post a comment.