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Liberals rejoiced when Michele Bachmann announced her intention to retire from Congress at the end of 2014. Bachmann will no longer be around to carry the Tea Party banner in Congress. But she’s almost guaranteed to be replaced by another far-right conservative. Minnesota’s 6th congressional district skews heavily Republican—voting 56 percent for Romney in 2012. Whichever GOPer emerges from the primary should easily waltz to a general election win in November. And that successor could either be a Bachmann clone or Minnesota’s own version of Grover Norquist.
The race is between two candidates from diverging wings of the Republican party: There’s Tom Emmer, the social conservative who hews closely to Bachmann and Phil Krinkie, a small-business owner whose mission in life is to block tax increases. A key vote for the nomination comes this week. Minnesota’s primary isn’t until August, but candidates are traditionally handpicked at summer conventions by the state party, while the primary is a mere formality. Local precincts will hold caucuses on Tuesday to elect delegates to the state convention, determining which candidate has the edge.
Emmer, a failed gubernatorial candidate from 2010, closely replicated the Bachmann model. For his first major bill after he entered the Minnesota House in 2005, Emmer proposed that the state medically castrate sex offenders. That was just the beginning of a career defined by extreme views. He’s unsure when quizzed about evolution. He favors harsh immigration laws—Arizona’s punitive 2010 law was a “wonderful first step.” He thinks a minimum wage for restaurant staff is a silly concept: “With the tips that they get to take home, they are some people earning over $100,000 a year,” Emmer said during his 2010 campaign.
Exempting Minnesota from federal laws was Emmer’s pet cause as a legislator. He proposed the Firearms Freedom Act, an implausible bill that would have declared Minnesota exempt from federal gun laws. He then took that a step further, introducing a bill that said Minnesota must ignore any federal law unless a supermajority approved each measure. “A federal law does not apply in Minnesota unless that law is approved by a two-thirds vote of the members of each house of the legislature and is signed by the governor,” his bill read. None of these measures succeeded, but they charmed the Bachmann wing of Minnesota’s Republican Party.
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