The 6th District’s mess could have a silver lining

Perhaps what has taken place in Minnesota’s 6th District in recent days is why people are so polarized toward politics.

First, Michele Bachmann decides she’s not running again to represent the district (this, many would argue, could turn out to be a good thing for all the conservative voters in that district since she’s become such a lightning rod of controversy). Then, to make matters really interesting, her opponent in the last election, Jim Graves – who came mighty close to unseating Bachmann – decides he’s not running, either.

It isn’t Graves’ decision not to run that bothers us, it’s how he came to that decision. He said his main purpose of running again was to unseat Bachmann, but almost as soon as she all but unseated herself, Graves’ desire to run for the seat suddenly vanished.

“We set out to defeat Rep. Bachmann, and that has been accomplished. You should feel incredibly proud,” he wrote to his backers.

Sounds like something you would hear after an election. And we don’t think there’s much to be proud of here. They won’t say as much, but it makes it sound like creating a Bachmann-free district was the Democrats’ only goal.

Of course, these are political races we’re talking about and these races are ultimately about winning and unseating the other party’s candidate, but we were under the impression that candidates choose to run for office, not just to oust someone, but because they sincerely want to help the state, they want to become a voice for the voters in their district – that’s the spiel we get on the campaign trail anyway. We thought their intentions were a little more noble than simply running someone out of office. Running a good campaign and winning an election takes care of that.

It’s painfully clear what Graves’ main intention was: to end Bachmann’s run as a U.S. representative, and he thought he was the one who could do it. Until she did it herself, that is. Now, with this mission accomplished in addition-by-subtraction fashion, Graves has pulled out and has left the DFL party dangling, searching for a new candidate.

Graves seemed to be the one candidate with enough pull, enough momentum, to pull off a historic DFL win in 2014 in the state’s most conservative district, but we’ll never know now.

Eventually, the DFL will find a candidate to replace Graves; the question is, can it find one who can hang with the Republican candidate like Graves did in 2012? The 6th District, remember, is still a tough crowd for DFLers (and it might be tougher now with Bachmann out of the picture). As for the GOP, it sounds like there’s a good chance Tom Emmer, a former state representative and candidate for governor, is planning to get back into the game and make a bid for that party’s nomination. Names like Chip Cravaack, Jim Knoblach and Phil Krinkie have also been tossed around.

However it goes down, at least the voters of the 6th District can move on, put the Bachmann-Graves fiasco behind them and focus on two fresh faces that hopefully will put the district before their own agenda.

They deserve as much. Every voter does.