ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Rep. Michele Bachmann's announcement that she won't seek a fifth term has her most recent opponent saying that she "read the tea leaves," in an apparent reference to her Tea Party ties.
Jim Graves spoke with WCCO-TV political reporter Pat Kessler on WCCO This Morning just hours after Bachmann made her announcement on YouTube.
"People want a change. They want a businessperson who is rigorous with the facts and can deliver good representation in congress," Graves said.
Graves ran on the Democratic ticket against Bachmann last November. Graves is a businessman who built his wealth in the hotel business.
He came just under 4,300 votes and just over 1 percentage point from winning that election, the closest Bachmann has ever come to being defeated in her four bids in Minnesota's 6th congressional district.
Graves said he "respectfully disagrees" with Bachmann's statement that she did not take the closeness of re-election bid in 2012 against Graves to heart in making this decision, and added he doesn't believe the ongoing ethics probe into her presidential campaign played a factor.
Graves told Kessler that, though she was often a magnet for political controversy, "she was passionate, she worked hard, she believed in what she was doing. People give her credit for that.
"But I do think the times are changing," he continued. "I think Congress is broken and she's part of that problem in Washington. I think it's a good decision for the people that she's going to move on and do something different."
Graves, who says he believes he would have won in a 2014 rematch against Bachmann, says he still plans on running again on the DFL ticket in the 6th district, though the district is rated the most Republican-leaning in the state by the Cook Partisan Voting Index.
"It isn't about Michele Bachmann or Jim Graves," he said. "It's about the people. ... I think they really did want a change."
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