The news that Michele Bachmann is throwing in the towel, not seeking reelection in 2014, is a triumph for LGBT activists and all progressives. And it’s a stunning blow to the Tea Party and the evangelical right. Bachmann,
just a year ago running for the Republican nomination for president, saw the world rapidly transforming all around her, the walls closing in as her progressive Democratic opponent, Jim Graves, got within a few thousand votes in the election last fall, and as her state will soon have gay and lesbian couples walking down the aisle in wedded bliss.
Dubbed the Tea Party Queen, Bachmann has been royalty on the far right, including among hard-core anti-gay activists who carried her to victory in the state legislature and in each of her Minnesota congressional elections since 2007. Bachmann ran on extreme homophobia, having courted some of the most horrifically anti-gay figures in the country, such as the evangelical rocker Bradlee Dean, who once citedSharia law‘s call for the execution of homosexuals and praised Muslim fundamentalists for being “more moral” than Christian evangelicals in that regard.
Bachmann and her husband Marcus have owned and operated “pray away the gay” clinics in Minnesota and she viewed getting an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot as one of her crowning achievements, working hard as a state legislator to lay the groundwork for it. Bachmann is the epitome of a homophobe — someone who fears homosexuals — and that was no more clear than in the bizarre incident in which she reportedly ran out a public restroom, claiming she was being held against her will after a lesbian activist and an ex-nun merely tried to address her in conversation.
Jim Graves, the Minnesota businessman who mounted an unsuccessful bid this year to unseat Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), said this week there could be another effort against the conservative firebrand in his future.
Graves added, however, that he hoped a different Bachmann would be on display during her fourth term.
“If she comes out and really changes her modus operandi and starts serving the people,” Graves said. “Maybe one of the byproducts is Michele will become a better congressperson and more responsive. And if so, I’d be happy.”
Bachmann defeated Graves by fewer than 5,000 votes out of more than 350,000 ballots cast. The race was her closest despite Bachmann’s prolific fundraising, which allowed her to outspend Graves by a 12-to-1 margin.
The win came after a whirlwind third term that included a rapid rise to the top of the GOP presidential primary pack, followed by an equally rapid descent down and eventually out of the contest. Her congressional input was no less lively, though her highly criticized decision to accuse top officials in President Barack Obama’s administration of working for the interests of the Muslim Brotherhoodwithout any evidence became another mark on a career that has frequently been highlighted by controversy.