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Hotel Owner, Jim Graves, Throwing Hat into Political Arena
Taking on Michele Bachmann

By Megan Boldt, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

April 15, 2012--Democrats in the 6th Congressional District are backing hotelier Jim Graves to take on Rep. Michele Bachmann this fall.

Graves won the endorsement in the first ballot at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's endorsing convention in Blaine on Saturday, April 14. He garnered 66 percent of the 114 ballots cast by delegates.

"I'm going to work every minute of every day until Nov. 6 to bring you home a win," Graves told the cheering crowd in the Teamsters Local 120 hall. "To bring us home a win. And I'm going to represent you with dignity, integrity and hard work."

Business owner Brian McGoldrick of May Township and St. Cloud lawyer Anne Nolan also were seeking the Democratic-Farmer-Labor endorsement. Both have promised not to challenge the endorsed candidate in an August primary.

"We're totally relieved we have a united party," Graves said. "We're coming out of the gate full steam ahead, no distractions. And we can focus on the big picture, which is Nov. 6, and address issues straight on with Michele Bachmann and get on with the dance."

Graves, chief executive of Graves Hospitality, which develops luxury hotels and restaurants, had labor backing going into the endorsement. The hospitality union Unite Here endorsed Graves, joining him last week when he officially kicked off his campaign in St. Cloud.

That's why Jimmy Burnette of Blaine voted for him.

"I like the fact that the union his employees are a part of backs him. That says a lot," said Burnette,

a Teamsters member who works for the city of St. Paul. "He's going to win."

The matchup between Graves and Bachmann will pit two well-financed candidates against each other. Bachmann set a fundraising record for House races nationwide in 2010, bringing in more than $13.5 million. Graves has said he'll inject some of his own money into the campaign, but he's planning to raise most of it from donors.

Neither candidate lives in the newly redrawn 6th District, which now runs from Washington County across the northern suburbs to just past St. Cloud. Graves moved to Minneapolis about a decade ago for business after living in St. Cloud for 48 years. He says he plans to take up residency in the 6th District soon. Bachmann has said she does not plan to move -- her West Lakeland Township home is just miles from the district's edge.

In Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District, DFL activists endorsed Navy veteran and marketing executive Brian Barnes to take on two-term Republican incumbent Erik Paulsen. Barnes, of Edina, won on the first ballot over rental-property owner Sharon Sund at the district's endorsing convention at Valley View Middle School in Eagan.

"People are tired of business as usual. Of politicians stacking the deck in their favor. Of a political culture that rewards participants based on what they destroy, rather than improve or build up. Of sad, cynical and desperate ploys to divide Americans based on race, religion or sexual orientation," Barnes said in a prepared statement.

Bachmann and Paulsen also were endorsed, as expected, by GOP loyalists Saturday.

"I am honored and excited to have the Republican endorsement for Minnesota's Sixth District," Bachmann said via Twitter. "Let's turn MN red in 2012! Will you join me?"

Paulsen said in his acceptance speech that helping small businesses grow with lower taxes and less regulation will continue to be his priority.

"Fixing a broken Washington, cutting spending and tackling the national debt is central to getting our country back on track," he said.

Megan Boldt can be reached at 651-228-5495. Follow her at


(c)2012 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)

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