Politicians who give up

Jim Graves’ exit from the congressional race in the 6th District was certainly a stunner today. Given the makeup of the district and the impressive number of Republicans willing to take Michele Bachmann’s place, it’s debatable whether he would’ve gotten anywhere near as close to a congressional seat as he did when he lost his bid last November. Still, the polls had him ahead of Bachmann.

It’s hard to begrudge anyone not wanting to lose their fortune trying to win a congressional seat and when Bachmann said “no mas” this week, there’s a fair chance a lot of money that would’ve flowed into Minnesota to defeat her went away. With Bachman out of the race, the campaign wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the media attention and it might’ve been harder to frame the debate on important issues.

All of that is logical thinking for a candidate who doesn’t want to run. The problem is: Graves didn’t use any of that logic in his announcement, and he shied away from being asked any questions by delivering a press release rather than standing up before a room full of reporters with good questions needing logical answers. The fact both he and Bachmann made their announcements without facing questioners is delicious irony in itself.

People with a chance to win who quit in politics get a special place in the political cemetery because they quit on all of the things they said they stood for when they ran for office. By saying his “mission was accomplished” in allegedly forcing Bachmann from the race, Graves suggested that his mission wasn’t standing for any of the things he said he stood for; it was about getting payback.

Maybe it was a convenient excuse to get out of the race. We don’t know.

As of April, Graves had hauled in over $100,000 from people who either (a) just wanted to get rid of Michele Bachmann or (b) had an ideological relationship with what Graves stood for as a potential member of Congress. We’ll never know.

It would have been tough going for Graves in any campaign against a Republican in the 6th District, probably as tough as doing something about the scandalous backlog of cases of returning military men and women at the Veteran’s Administration, or the weak economy, or the fact kids are graduating from college tens of thousands of dollars in debt with little chance of a job.

Those are pretty important things, the kind of things the best and brightest politicians ever to come out of Minnesota once were willing to put up a fight for.