WASHINGTON – Michele Bachmann is wielding her mighty email list of donors on behalf of fellow Minnesota Republican Chip Cravaack, who’s locked in a highly competitive race with former DFL U.S. Rep. RicK Nolan in the 8th Congressional District.
In a message sent to supporters Tuesday, Bachmann said she rarely sends fundraising emails on behalf of other candidates but she made an exception for Cravaack because “the stakes are so high” that Democrats could retake the U.S. House. Actually, many political forecasters, such as Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia, believe Democrats will gain fewer than 10 of the 25 total seats they’d need to take a majority in the House.
Still, the district is one of the Democrats’ strongest opportunities to reclaim a seat lost in the 2010 election, when Cravaack defeated long-serving DFLer Jim Oberstar. Outside groups aligned with both parties are spending millions in the race and one recent analysis suggested the 8th District contest is among the five most expensive House races in the nation.
Bachmann’s fundraising list could potentially generate a windfall for Cravaack. In the most recent quarter, Bachmann raised $4.5 million, mostly from small donations solicited through her list. While Cravaack has raised approximately $1.8 million since entering office in 2011, donors giving less than $200 count for a relatively small portion of his fundraising base, about 22 percent according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings.
In her message, Bachmann called Cravaack “a solid conservative” and “one of us.” While Cravaack was elected with tea party support in 2010, he has generally eschewed the label and has not joined the House Tea Party Caucus that Bachmann chairs.