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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Fresh off the national stage of a failed presidential bid, Republican Michele Bachmann said Tuesday that she will seek re-election to her Minnesota congressional seat, even though her home is being thrown into a district currently represented by a Democrat.
A judicial panel released a new congressional map that put Bachmann’s St. Paul suburb of Stillwater in the new 4th District. Had Bachmann decided to run there, it would have set up a potential general election matchup with six-term incumbent Betty McCollum, the state’s only other woman in the U.S. House.
Instead, Bachmann said she plans to seek re-election in the redrawn 6th District, which runs from suburbs north of the Twin Cities in a line northwest to the city of St. Cloud. She said that represents “the heart” of the district she has represented since 2007.
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Bachmann said the national prominence she gained on the presidential stump paves the way for her to be an even more outspoken advocate for fiscal conservatism in Congress. She made a splash early by winning a high-profile straw poll of Iowa Republicans in August but was unable to maintain the momentum. She dropped out of the race in early January after finishing last in the leadoff caucuses in Iowa, the state where she was born.
“I embody the voice of the 6th Congressional District,” Bachmann said. “I faithfully took that voice all across the United States, and amplified that very common sense Minnesota heartland voice of not spending more money than we take in, not increasing anyone’s taxes and having the government live within its means.”
Bachmann, a favorite of tea party conservatives who has often clashed with establishment Republicans, fared better in the court-drawn map than the one drawn by Minnesota’s GOP-controlled Legislature in 2011. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed that plan, saying at the time he believed Republicans unfairly targeted Democratic incumbents and that he was only willing to sign redistricting proposals if they had bipartisan support.
The inability of Dayton and GOP lawmakers to agree on a political realignment threw the issue into the courts, where it has almost always landed in recent decades. Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea appointed a panel of state judges to draw up new maps, and the group considered proposals from interested groups including the state Democratic and Republican parties.
Bachmann’s 6th District gained nearly 100,000 residents since the 2000 census, forcing the panel to trim suburban areas on its eastern edge — including the Stillwater precinct where Bachmann lives. Shortly after word of Bachmann’s decision broke Tuesday, McCollum’s campaign sent out a press release taunting Bachmann for “running away” from a challenge.
The new 6th is largely made up of her longtime turf and political power base, including the suburban city of Anoka where her family moved when she was 12 and counties northwest of the Twin Cities dominated by the kind of socially conservative voters who have traditionally supported her. If anything, the district might be even more conservative because it gained a portion of Republican-leaning Carver County.
That comes at the expense of her fellow Republican, U.S. Rep. John Kline, whose 2nd District appeared to grow slightly more favorable toward Democrats.
There were few revisions to Minnesota’s other seven congressional districts as a result of redistricting, the once-per-decade redrawing of congressional and legislative boundaries to reflect post-census population shifts. Bachmann was the only one of Minnesota’s eight members of Congress to be displaced; the other three Republicans and four Democrats stayed in the districts they currently represent.
Neither Bachmann nor Kline has gained a Democratic opponent yet.
Bachmann’s presidential bid will hand campaign fodder to her eventual opponent. She missed 71 percent of congressional votes between when she declared her presidential candidacy last June and when she dropped out in early January. Also, while campaigning in Iowa she repeatedly stressed her roots in that state directly to Minnesota’s south.
While members of Congress aren’t required to live in the districts they represent, Minnesota state lawmakers do face that requirement. Of the state’s 201 legislators, 46 were thrown into districts with fellow incumbents, including the Republican House majority leader, Matt Dean.
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