Rep. Michele Bachmann watches election results at the Republican Party… (Glen Stubbe / Star Tribune…)
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Michele Bachmann has narrowly won a fourth term in Congress, defeating Democrat and businessman Jim Graves after an unexpectedly tough campaign.
"It has truly been an honor and a privilege to represent the people of Minnesota's Sixth District in Congress, and I am humbled that they have placed their trust in me for another term," Bachmann said in a statement.
For most of the night the race was too close to call with only a few hundred votes separating the two candidates, but Bachmann eventually edged ahead and secured her victory by about 4,000 votes.
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Graves, a self-made millionaire and Minnesota hotelier, was seen as the Democrat's best chance yet to unseat Bachmann - a formidable fundraiser and tea party champion. The race was Bachmann's first test since ending her short-lived presidential campaign after a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucus in January.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced in mid-October that it had placed Graves on their exclusive "Red to Blue" program -- a list of 53 GOP incumbents that the Democrats were confident they could beat on election day.
During the last weeks of the campaign, Graves accused Bachmann of being "distracted by her own celebrity" and claimed that she spent more time promoting herself outside of Minnesota and "creating headlines" than serving the constituents in her district.
Bachmann used her TV ads to paint Graves as "big spendin' Jim" in an attempt to tie Graves to President Obama's policies in the conservative 6th District in Minnesota.
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Bachmann managed to rake in nearly $4.5 million in campaign donations. FEC records showed that she had spent nearly $8 million through September, compared with the $1 million spent by the Graves campaign.
Toward the end of the campaign Bachmann defended herself against the charge that she was a divisive and polarizing member of Congress, claiming that she had been an "independent
voice" in Washington, willing to stand up even against her own party.
Graves released a statement Wednesday morning congratulating Bachmann on her victory.
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