The liberal super-PAC CREDO on Wednesday made Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) its first target of the 2014 election cycle — hoping to finish the job it started in 2012, when the group helped push her to the cusp of defeat.
The move comes as Bachmann seeks to reestablish her congressional influence — and burnish her reelection credentials — with the re-launch Thursday of the House Tea Party Caucus.
“She has always been involved with the Tea Party, [and] feels passionately as they do about lower spending, the Constitution and balancing the budget. We want to be outspoken and leaders on this.”
Bachmann has kept a relatively low profile since her 2012 presidential campaign ended after the Iowa caucuses, focusing instead on repairing her relationship with Minnesota constituents who were irked by her failed White House bid.
She won a fourth term by a narrow 4,300-vote margin over Democrat Jim Graves, despite having a huge spending edge.
CREDO was one of the only national groups that helped Graves in the race, which the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sat out.
Bachmann is currently favored to win reelection in 2014 — now that anger in Bachmann’s district over her White House campaign has subsided — though Graves has said he’ll seek a rematch.
Becky Bond, CREDO’s president, said the group plans to spend at least $500,000 against Bachmann and insisted Wednesday she will be vulnerable in 2014.
“Bachmann’s bigotry and bizarre political views don’t represent Minnesota values. Bachmann has launched an anti-Muslim witch hunt, actually believes that gay marriage is the biggest problem facing the nation, and has even claimed that ObamaCare kills people,” Bond said in a statement.
“Bachmann won by a mere 4,000 votes in 2012, and is beatable in 2014. If our volunteers in Minnesota’s 6th District can turn out enough voters, the Tea Party Caucus in Congress will be down yet one more bigoted conspiracy theorist.”
Bachmann, however, is hardly an easy mark. Her district is the most Republican in Minnesota — GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won it with 55 percent of the vote in 2012. And much of the anti-Bachmann sentiment in her district last cycle stemmed from the amount of time she spent in neighboring Iowa, rather than tending to her constituents’ needs.
Still, Bachmann will need to balance her ambitions to reemerge as a national figure with more parochial district concerns.
The once-media friendly congresswoman — a cable TV regular who was quick to stir controversy — has kept her distance from reporters around Capitol Hill since her presidential campaign went bust.
But Bachmann is starting to ease back in to the spotlight, with mixed results.
She took a lot of heat for making accusations in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference that President Obama was using taxpayer money to live a lavish lifestyle, and for comments about government waste in the federal food stamp program.
The resurrection of the House Tea Party Caucus is the latest signal that she’s looking to find her national voice again.
Kotman said Bachmann hinted that she might be more vocal in the coming months.
“I think she’s continuing to be active and she’ll continue to speak out on the things that are important to her constituents,” he said.
Kotman said the reelection fight “was way down the road” and not Bachmann’s current focus.
In an interview, Bond acknowledged that defeating Bachmann would be a herculean task. But she said CREDO’s early start would give the organization time to develop a much stronger effort against Bachmann.
The super-PAC was created by the liberal, California-based phone company CREDO Mobile. It eschews advertising attacks for grassroots political warfare, hiring full-time staffers to run ground campaigns.
“2014 will be even harder. We don’t have the presidential election motivating voters,” Bond said.
“We know the numbers and we know this is going to be hard. ... We have to take some risks. A lot can happen over the course of the next 18 months.”
Bond pointed out that the group won five of the eight races it targeted early on in 2012, and none of the three they jumped into later in the year.
In Bachmann’s district, “the infrastructure wasn’t there to win when it came to the homestretch,” she said. “What we learned last cycle is these efforts take a really long time to build.”
CREDO didn’t put staffers in Bachmann’s district until August of last year, leaving them scrambling to create a volunteer network in the area.
This time they’ll have an office open more than a year and a half before the election.