POLITICS
05/29/2013 01:17 pm ET Updated May 29, 2013

Michele Bachmann Not Seeking Reelection, 'Wise Choice' Says Democratic Challenger Jim Graves

Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) surprising decision Wednesday to not seek a fifth congressional term was played down by her presumptive Democratic opponent Jim Graves during interviews with WCCO-TV and KSTP-TV.

"I think she's definitely read the tea leaves and probably made a wise choice on her part to get out now," Graves, who narrowly lost to Bachmann in 2012 and has already announced his candidacy for the seat in 2014, said on WCCO-TV.

In a web video emailed out early Wednesday morning, Bachmann said Graves' challenge hadn't played a role in her choice.

“Be assured: My decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being reelected … I have every confidence that if I ran, I would again defeat the individual who I defeated last year, who recently announced he is once again running," she said. Amongst other hurdles, Bachmann is being investigated by the FEC, the Office of Congressional Ethics and the FBI in relation to alleged campaign finance improprieties stemming from her failed 2012 presidential run.

Graves said that he was awoken early Wednesday morning by a call from his campaign manager relaying the news of Bachmann's retirement. "We weren't totally surprised she dropped out," Graves told KSTP-TV.

"She's been seeing the same information that we've been seeing ... which is she's in a little bit of trouble with the electorate up in the 6th District," Graves said. "Her message isn't really resonating ... People are looking for a change, looking for more of a business approach, trying to get something done in Congress. Not just separating, dividing and gridlock."

Graves, a successful businessman who will be running again in the most conservative district in Minnesota, said he was not sure what Bachmann's retirement will mean to his electoral chances. He also deflected assertions that a moderate conservative candidate would be a more formidable opponent.

"I'm not concerned about who runs or who doesn't run, because it's not going to change one bit what I say or what I do," Graves told KSTP-TV.

"I really wasn't running against Michele Bachmann, and it really isn't about Michele Bachmann," Graves continued. "I've never blasted Michele Bachmann, I respect her as a person. And she's passionate, she did what she thought was right. My whole campaign last time and this time is a positive campaign."

Still, their 2012 face off was bitterly fought, and was one of the most expensive congressional races in the country. In an interview with The Huffington Post in April, Graves said that voters in the district are "embarrassed" by Bachmann and "sick of the showmanship."

Graves spoke to HuffPost Live about Bachmann's decision Wednesday. Watch here.

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