Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota announced this week that she will not seek re-election to the U.S. House. There is all kinds of immediate speculation about why she is doing so, with most of it tied to an ethics inquiry related to her failed presidential campaign and a possibly tough re-election fight. She won a narrow victory in her House race last time around.
The candidate herself says she was not influenced by these alleged concerns. Which means she thinks she could have won. We have to agree that she would have remained formidable.
Bachmann is a polarizing figure, to say the least. She has been one face of the tea party movement, which should not be considered controversial since the group simply wants a federal government that is smaller, financially responsible and less intrusive. You don't have to agree with that goal, but it is a valid position to hold. The tea party - to its credit - has also led the charge against Obamacare.
We would note that Bachmann brought with her to the tea party the rest of her beliefs. Such as opposition to gay marriage and her support for other tenets of social conservatism. She was definitely no friend to liberals, and not necessarily friendly to centrists. Bachmann also became too well known for some gaffes and misstatements, for which she had to correct herself or apologize. This harmed her credibility.
But for all the detractors, there are just as many, or more, supporters. Bachmann is serving her fourth term in Congress, which means she has had to be more popular than not. At the same time, we believe voters in the Sixth Congressional District can elect and will appreciate another strong conservative who does not carry around the baggage that Bachmann does. That could actually help a group like the tea party accomplish more.