Michele Bachmann retains 6th district seat

Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann gives her acceptance speech after winning the 6th district congressional race at the Minnesota Republican Party headquarters in the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington, Minn.
MPR Photo/Chris Kelleher

Bachmann defeated Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg in a tight contest that drew national attention in the closing weeks of the campaign and a third candidate might have tipped the balance. Unofficial results showed Bachmann winning by just 2 percentage points.

Minnesota Republicans couldn't celebrate a presidential win Tuesday night, but they did get some congressional victories. Incumbent Congresswoman Michele Bachmann thanked her supporters gathered in a Bloomington hotel for sending her back to Washington for a second term. Bachmann said 6th district voters had big concerns.

Elwyn Tinklenberg concedes defeate to Bachman
DFL candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg conceded defeat to incumbent Michele Bachmann for Minnesota's 6th Congressional District on Tuesday, Novemeber 4.
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

"They're concerned about the economy, concerned about the bailout, concerned about where we're going to go with the future of our country," Bachmann told her supporters. "They showed up in droves because they wanted to be heard at the ballot box, and one thing that I'm going to do when I go back to Washington, D.C. is to make sure that we keep fighting."

Bachmann's re-election bid ran into trouble just over two weeks ago after her now famous appearance on MSNBC. In that national TV interview, Bachmann said she had concerns about whether Barack Obama's views are anti-American and suggested the news media investigate members of Congress for their anti-American views. Bachmann later claimed she was misunderstood and misquoted, and more recently she insisted voters weren't interested.

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Bachmann told reporters, after her acceptance speech, that she's ready to work with President-elect Obama.

"You know the American people spoke," Bachmann said. "They've made their choice and they've made it very clear. The main thing now is the welfare of the American people moving forward. I'll be delighted to work with everyone who won tonight, Republican, Democrat, Independent. That's what we're there to do, so I look forward to do that."

The outrage over Bachmann's comments gave her Democratic challenger, Elwyn Tinklenberg, a huge windfall in new campaign contributions. But the controversy did not translate into votes. Tinklenberg told his supporters gathered in Ramsey that he called to congratulate Bachmann and told her he was envious of her opportunity to work with the new president. He also said he was still proud to be part of a historic moment.

"You know there comes a point at which you recognize that you're not going to win," Tinklenberg said. "And that's a hard thing. But you also understand that while you lose, the things you care about don't [lose], the things that matter."

Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann speaks to media and supporters after her acceptance speech for the 6th district congressional seat at the Minnesota Republican Party headquarters in the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington, Minn.
MPR photo/Chris Kelleher

Tinklenberg served as state transportation commissioner under Governor Jesse Ventura, former mayor of Blaine and a former Methodist minister.

Tinklenberg had counted on the support of independent voters, after winning a cross-endorsement from the Independence Party of Minnesota. But an unendorsed Independence Party candidate was also on the ballot, Bob Anderson. Anderson received a surprising 10 percent of the vote after running a bare-bones, self-financed campaign. Tinklenberg said he knew Anderson could be a factor.

"Bob did very well, and certainly that cut into our support," Tinklenberg. "But I think it also cut into Representative Bachmann's support. We'll have to do some analysis of that and see where the impacts of that were."

This was Tinklenberg's second congressional campaign. He lost the DFL endorsement to Patty Wetterling in 2006. Tinklenberg said he doesn't plan to run again, and will instead look for other ways to serve the state and country.