Despite the exhaustive redistricting process earlier this year, Monticello along with all of Wright County and Sherburne County remains in the 6th Congressional District.
Area residents will see the very familiar name of Michele Bachmann on their ballot in November. Bachmann, whose hometown of Stillwater is now in the 4th District, decided early on to seek re-election in the 6th – which continues to cover northern Washington County, most of Anoka County, all of Wright and Sherburne Counties, plus parts of Benton and Stearns Counties. The district has also picked up a piece of northern Carver County.
Bachmann brings her national celebrity status and conservative views into the 6th District race. “Minnesotans see the slow recovery and sustained unemployment and they worry their children and grandchildren will never achieve the American Dream of independence. The voters have said the economy is the number one issue of this election and they understand failed policies to spend our way out of this recession are simply not working. Minnesotans are ready for leadership that can create jobs, lower taxes and reduce government involvement in our businesses. We are all ready for America to get back to work, back to liberty and back to prosperity,” Bachmann said in a recent statement.
Here’s a look at both candidates:
(Reporting by T.W. Budwig. Compiled by Peggy Bakken)
Michele Bachmann generated extensive media attention in her campaign for president in 2011, but withdrew in January 2012. On Jan. 25, 2012, she announced she would seek re-election to Congress.
Bachmann argues she has done a good job representing the 6th District. “From large projects like the St. Croix Bridge to personal issues like foster care, the sixth district has been my home for 40 years, and I will continue to serve my constituents on the issues that matter to them,” she stated.
Bachmann was born in 1956 in Waterloo, Iowa. She moved with her mother to Minnesota when she was 13. She graduated from Anoka High School in 1974, and Winona State University in 1978.
She went on to study law at Oral Roberts University, receiving a Juris Doctor degree in 1986. She also earned a degree in tax law from William & Mary School of Law.
Bachmann and her husband, Marcus Bachmann, own a Christian counseling practice named Bachmann & Associates. They have five children and cared for 23 foster children, all teenage girls, through the 1990s.
Bachmann ran for the Stillwater School Board in 1999, and lost. In 2000, she defeated a long-time incumbent Republican for the nomination for Minnesota Senate, and then went on to win the 2000 general election.
In 2006, she ran for the 6th District Congressional seat, and became the first Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. House from Minnesota.
When the redistricting maps were released in February, Bachmann’s hometown of Stillwater had been moved into the 4th district. However, Bachmann said at the time, “Though the court changed the district by drawing my residence out of the district and into district four, the vast majority of the people I currently represent remain in district 6. The area covered by our district isn’t just a place I represent in Congress; it is the community I call home. We are neighbors, business owners, friends and family. It is the place I grew up and where I graduated from high school. The voice of the people of the sixth district has been heard in the halls of Congress and across the nation. It is a common sense voice of the heartland of Minnesota, and I am honored to serve the people.”
Bachmann has often sounded the themes for her campaign: More jobs, higher paying jobs, cutting the price of gasoline and cutting wasteful government spending. She has been very outspoken against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), abortion and same-sex marriage.
“My experience as a tax attorney, job creator and mother continue to guide my belief that we need a government that unleashes the free market, taxes less, and spends no more than it takes in. I will also continue the fight reforming burdensome government regulations to help small businesses in Minnesota create jobs, and repealing Obamacare and Dodd-Frank.” Dodd-Frank is the reform law passed in 2010 in response to the financial crisis in the banking industry during the recession of 2008.
Bachmann said, “Minnesotans supported my Congressional campaigns since 2006 because I work tirelessly to shrink the size and impact of government, to cut bureaucratic red-tape, and to restore our individual liberties. In the upcoming campaign I will also work to bring more and higher paying private sector jobs to our district and to Minnesota, to fight to increase and legalize American energy production to bring down the high cost of gasoline and to stop the out-of-control, wasteful spending in Washington. And I will continue to make sure our country remains free, safe and sovereign.”
“I am looking forward to working together with my supporters to run an aggressive campaign. And most importantly, I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Minnesota in district 6 and taking their voice and values to Washington, D.C.”
Jim Graves, 58, of St. Cloud, is a highly successful businessman who built the AmericInn hotel chain after making the decision as a younger man, perhaps in accord with his entrepreneurial DNA, he joked, to leave a good job and clamber down the lower level steps at home with a typewriter and strike out on his own.
Yes, he had a business plan, he explained. What’s more, he could spot opportunity. “Somebody needs a night’s sleep. They want a nice experience. That’s their need,” he said. “That’s my opportunity,” said Graves.
Graves parents live in the same house on the north side of St. Cloud where Graves, his brothers and sister, grew up. Graves’ father was a salesman who sold peanut butter and cake mixes to local grocery stores.
Graves worked as a baker, delivered televisions, cleaned the bathrooms in a movie theater, he said. Like his brothers and sister, he paid for his high school and college tuitions, said Graves.
As a young couple, Graves, and his wife, Julie Graves, played lounges and clubs as folk singers, Jim Graves strumming guitar and singing with Julie Graves playing piano and joining in song. Today, the Graves have three children and seven grandchildren.
One thing that prompted Graves to step outside his “comfort zone” was politics.
Graves, who has felt unease about the direction the country, said his determination to run for office set after watching a television commentator deplore the state of politics in the country and wonder why anybody, given the toxicity, would want to serve in office.
“That’s the kind of challenge that gets me going,” said Graves. “I’m the kind of person that likes to see a goal that’s reachable but maybe difficult — but a good goal, good for the common good,” he said.
In talking about the federal budget, Graves expressed annoyance with the idea that simply letting the Bush tax cuts expire or one or two other simple steps will turn the budget deficit around. That’s too easy, he said.
Jim Graves said he likes people, including the congresswoman he hopes to defeat.
“I like Michele Bachmann. As a person, I really do,” said Graves. Graves may like Bachmann the person, but not Bachmann the politician.
“I think Congresswoman Bachmann epitomizes a lot, if not all, that’s wrong with Washington,” he said. “Which is gridlock, which is lack of civility, lack of common good, and a lack of trying to get things done for the future,” said Graves.
“At the end of the day, we have to find a way to build the middle class,” he said. “That’s what is at risk. That’s what’s always driven the economy, historically,” he said.
On other issues, Graves indicated that hunters, anglers and gun owners would find a kindred spirit in Congressman Graves. “The Second Amendment stands for itself,” he said. “I love venison in the fall. It’s a tradition in our family — hunting is a big thing.”
In terms of immediate improvements to the district, Graves points to infrastructure. He would like to see the Northstar Commuter Rail line extended. He would like to see the St. Cloud Airport upgraded as to better suit the demands of business.
And there’s no question there are a lot of federal regulatory changes that can be made to improve the business climate, Graves said.
Graves opposes the proposed constitutional amendments appearing on the November ballot — photo ID and the same-sex marriage ban. He’s worried Photo ID could place barriers to voting for seniors and veterans, he explained.
And as for the marriage ban amendment, he points to his own 39-year marriage. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me in my life,” he said. “And by gosh, why can’t everybody enjoy that?” If a church or synagogue objects to same-sex marriage — fine. That’s entirely their right, he explained.
“But in America, we all have an opportunity to reach our happiness. As a legislator, I’m going to stand up for everybody in America,” he said.
Neither Graves nor Bachmann has a primary election competitor. There also is no Independence Party candidate in the 6th District, so both candidates go directly to the general election ballot Tuesday, Nov. 6.