Graves concedes 6th District to Bachmann

Jim Graves
Sixth District DFL challenger Jim Graves thanks his supporters at his election party at Le St. Germain Hotel in St. Cloud, Minn., early Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The race was called for Bachmann early Wednesday, but Graves has indicated the possibility of a recount.
Tom Baker for MPR

Democrat Jim Graves has conceded to Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in the 6th Congressional District race.

"The people have spoken and Michele won the election," Graves told MPR's The Daily Circuit. Just before speaking to MPR News, Graves said he called Bachmann to congratulate her.

He tweeted earlier Wednesday that a recount was likely.Graves trailed Bachmann by about 4,200 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The difference was about 1 percent of all votes cast. It has to be within half of 1 percent to trigger an automatic recount under state law.

Graves said Bachmann was the clear winner. "We want to move on and bring the country together," he said.

The district includes the St. Cloud area and reaches into the exurban and suburban area north of the Twin Cities all the way to the St. Croix River on the Wisconsin border.

Graves led in St. Cloud and split the vote in suburban Anoka County. Bachmann ran strong in exurban Wright, Sherburne and Carver counties. The district's boundaries were redrawn, making it the most conservative district in the state. Graves said he and his campaign staff knew it would be an uphill battle.

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"We knew when they redistricted it was very much positioned to be a red district, and it was going to be a tough one to overcome," he said. "We came pretty close."

For the first time, Bachmann was not running with a third party candidate in the race. Bachmann's presidential bid, although unsuccessful, elevated her political profile.

The tightness of the contest appeared to catch both campaigns off guard. Bachmann had a massive $11.1 million fundraising advantage and polls showed her with a lead.

Graves founded the company Graves Worldwide Hospitality and has a net worth estimated at between $22 million and $105 million, according to disclosure reports. Graves loaned $520,000 of his fortune to the campaign.

Asked if he would consider running against Bachmann again or run for any other political office, Graves left the door open.

"At this point in time, you never say never," he said.

But he added that he's "not a politician" and is more of a "business and social, back-behind-the-scenes kind of guy."

(MPR reporters Brett Neely, Madeleine Baran, Catharine Richert and Conrad Wilson contributed to this report.)