Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District, which stretches from exurbs through farmlands and blue-collar towns, has been Bachmann country since 2006, when the conservative lawmaker bootstrapped herself into the U.S. House of Representatives. She has fended off every Democratic and third-party challenger since then and become an icon to Tea Party Republicans.
But this year, Bachmann is up against an atypical Democrat -- [Jim Graves] a wealthy businessman who embraces capitalism and has a strong libertarian streak on social issues. By midweek, the two were clashing fiercely over competing ads, with Bachmann labeling Graves as "Big Spending Jim," and Graves accusing her of being more concerned with her national brand than her constituents...
...Wealthy enough to self-finance a congressional campaign, Graves is hitting Bachmann hard on jobs and the economy. Earlier this week his campaign began rolling out television ads, including a spot that blasted Bachmann for not personally reaching out to workers laid off from the Sartell paper mill in her district.
"She's too worried about her own career ... to worry about anyone else," a montage of laid-off mill workers announce to the television camera. "We need someone focused on Minnesota's middle class again. ... We need a representative who cares about us."
That set off a barrage from the Bachmann camp, which called the ad "dishonest and irresponsible," noting that Bachmann sent staffers to Sartell, letters of encouragement to workers and a flag that had flown over the Capitol to a fundraiser for the family of the worker killed in the explosion that led to the mill's closure.
In an interview, Graves said he thinks Bachmann's reputation for inflammatory, divisive statements will push more of her former supporters toward his campaign.
"Headlines are great if you want to be a movie star or a rock star, but that isn't what the people want in the district," he said.
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