It had all the trappings of an epic House race in the making. A rematch between Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Democrat Jim Graves, who came oh-so-close to unseating the congresswoman in 2012.
As it turns out, neither will be running.
First, Bachmann announced her retirement Wednesday. Then, on Friday came word that Graves will indefinitely suspend his campaign -- a move that is not wholly surprising, considering how much more difficult his task became when Bachmann stepped aside.
“Basically, after all that’s gone on, and with Michele Bachmann now stepping down, I’ve been talking to my friends and family and frankly, the feeling is, ‘Mission Accomplished,'" Graves told MinnPost.com's Eric Black in an interview published Friday morning.
Bachmann defeated Graves by a little more than a point in 2012, despite a huge spending advantage and a district that is the most conservative in the state. Graves announced earlier this year that he was going to try again, a move that had Democrats licking their chops at the prospect of a pickup, especially considering all of Bachmann's mounting baggage.
But with Bachmann out of the picture, the race quickly looked very different. All of a sudden, a very winnable race looked like a steep uphill climb for Graves. Given the district's tilt (Mitt Romney won more than 56 percent of the vote there in 2012), the prospect of unseating a Republican without Bachmann's negatives looked awfully tough for Democrats.
In his interview with the Minnesota Post, Graves didn't say yes or no to the question of whether the long odds he stood to face in a Bachmann-less race contributed to his decision. But he acknowledged that national Democrats and donors would likely take less interest in the campaign.
“I was just the guy who was running against her,” Graves said in the interview. “I’m humble enough to realize that."