Michelle Bachmann speaks at a Tea Party rally in April 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Remember when Michele Bachmann announced after the 2010 election that she wanted to chair the House Republican Conference? And Republicans lined up to block her run?
Remember when Michele Bachmann stepped on House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s response to the 2011 State of the Union address? And she diluted the GOP message?
Remember when Michele Bachmann launched a high-profile bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination? And she finished in sixth place in the Iowa caucuses, with barely 5 percent of the vote and carrying no counties?
Republicans who are serious about the future of their party do. That’s why there will be no mourning in the top ranks of the Grand Old Party over the decision by Bachmann that she will not seek re-election in 2014.
Bachmann has been the face of what ails the GOP. And Republicans who recognize the party’s fundamental challenges may well understand this.
But the dynamics that made Bachmann an outsized figure in the party are not going away. That’s because Michele Bachmann did not elbow her way into the game on the basis of the Tea Party politics she embraced after the movement got going, and the “constitutional conservatism” she spent so much time talking about. (Indeed, she often stumbled when discussing constitutional matters, and regularly split with libertarian-leaning Republicans when core questions of civil liberties and executive power arose.)
Bachmann was a prominent figure because she figured out how to channel big donations from right-wing donors in states far from Minnesota into an electoral insurance policy.
When she sought re-election after her losing presidential bid, Bachmann ran for re-election in Minnesota, raised almost $15 million and spent almost $12 million on her congressional race.
Add on the fundraising and spending by her leadership PAC and she was over $16 million, with spending over $13 million. And that’s not even counting the $10.5 million she raised and mostly spent in a presidential bid that that has inspired investigations into possible misconduct by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Election Commission, the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee.