Bachmann and Graves bow out
Minnesota woke up to the end of a political era on May 29. At about 2 that morning, Michele Bachmann posted a clip on YouTube in which she announced that this term will be her last in Congress.
About a week prior, Bachmann released a campaign ad trumpeting the passage of her bill to repeal Obamacare in the House (of course, the legislation has no chance of passage in the Democrat-controlled Senate), so the working assumption was that Minnesota's most notorious congressperson would run again in 2014.
But with the help of hindsight, perhaps Bachmann's decision shouldn't be regarded as much of a surprise after all. Since Bachmann squeaked out a victory over Jim Graves last November, her ill-fated presidential campaign has become the subject of FEC and FBI probes, fact-checkers have teed off on a series of Pinocchio-style statements she made in recent speeches, and the latest polling showed her actually slightly behind Graves, who in April announced his intention to mount a second run against her. Perhaps it was a perfect storm.
As you'd expect, Bachmann denied that the federal investigations and poor polling had anything to do with her announcement, saying in the video that "my decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being reelected to Congress" and "this decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff."
In response to those claims, one Democratic strategist pointed out he "can get you a great deal on a bridge."
Then on Friday, Graves suddenly released a statement saying, "We set out to defeat Rep. Bachmann, and that has been accomplished ... after struggling with this decision — agonizing over it with my friends, supporters, and family, I've decided to suspend my campaign indefinitely."
Graves instantly went from being one of Minnesota's hottest Democratic political prospects to a pariah, as his decision to pull out was almost universally decried by those who lean to the left, who recognize that it's unlikely another challenger will have the same shot to beat a Republican guaranteed to be less strident than Bachmann.
Graves seems to think that's fine as long as Bachmann isn't the one taking the victory lap. But one thing is almost certain — whoever next year's Sixth District candidates are, the campaign will be less entertaining than the rematch of Bachmann and Graves we were anticipating. Leave it to Bachmann to stymie liberals even as she gives them what they want.
Macalester hammers student protesters
Only at Macalester could there be a protest about a protest.
The college sternly punished students involved in April's week-long anti-Wells Fargo protest, drawing the ire of some alums who think administrators went too far.
The school reportedly put more than a dozen students on probation for next semester. They won't be able to participate in extracurricular activities, including internships, athletics, studying abroad, or student government.
Administrators were especially upset about protesters' move to block access to the Weyerhaeuser Hall administrative building a couple of days into the protest.
In response to the administration's stiff measures, a group of Mac alums put together a petition calling for officials to respect the school's tradition of social activism.
"Administrators' choice to punish student activism and retreat from social justice doesn't match Macalester's values," the alumni wrote. "This is not the Macalester we know and love."
The protesting students wanted Macalester to discontinue its banking relationship with Wells Fargo, citing the role the bank played in the housing crisis. But administrators refused to meet that demand, arguing that "Macalester's relationship with Wells Fargo is quite limited" and "It's hard to know whether Wells Fargo's significant footprint in foreclosure action is any better or worse than other market participants and whether the impact is simply related to size."
Members of the Kick Wells Fargo Off Campus group vowed to continue agitating even after administrators announced they didn't intend to sever ties with the bank.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.