It takes two to tango, and for the past couple of years, those two in Minnesota's 6th District have been Rep. Michele Bachmann, and her DFL?challenger Jim Graves. Bachmann barely beat Graves in the 2012 election, and Graves was looking strong for an upset in the 2014 electiob.
Last week, of course, Bachmann surprised her supporters by declaring she would not run for re-election. Graves turned their little dance from a tango to a political Hokey Pokey - you put your candidacy in, you pull your candidacy out - by dropping from the race the very next day. He said his goal had been to unseat Bachmann, and his work was done.
What now for the 6th District, Minnesota's most staunchly conservative district? Who will Republicans choose to represent the party in 2014, and who can the DFL find to challenge?
Here's what we hope happens. Bachmann, of course, is the sweetheart of tea party activists across the country, famous as much for her ability to quickly raise millions in campaign funds from across the country as for her ability to turn facts on their ear in her statements. She leveraged that all into a short-lived presidential run that peaked and crashed in Iowa. Her main legislative effort seemed to be to pass bill after bill to repeal Obamacare, a juggernaut that is going nowhere as long as the Democrats control the Senate.
It would be nice if her decision not to run, fueled in part by falling popularity numbers in polls pitting her against Graves, signalled a resurgence of mainstream Republicans who are as tired of marching to the tea party tune as they are of Obama in the White House. It would be nice if the Republicans could choose a candidate who is conservative, but not a fanatic about it.
And if the DFL can find someone who, like Graves, had the background to appeal to moderate Republicans as well, it could make for an exciting campaign.