The candidate: Republican Tom Emmer, a former state representative who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor in Minnesota in 2010, now seeking the 6th District. The other candidates: Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah, a Republican. A Democratic environmental activist, Judy Adams, announced her bid after hotel magnate Jim Graves dropped out of the contest. The member: Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who announced in May that she will retire at the end of this term. The district: Republican-leaning Minneapolis exurbs, which have experienced significant population growth from young, conservative families. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the 6th District’s vote with 56 percent. The candidate’s team: Emmer is in the process of forming his team.
1. A few of my Minnesota sources described you as the “Bachmann 2.0” candidate. How are you similar to Bachmann? How are you different?
Emmer: I am who I am. I could never fill Michele Bachmann’s shoes. She’s represented the people of the 6th District as well as anyone who has represented the people of the 6th District. If I’m fortunate enough to get through the endorsement process, and then if I’m fortunate enough to get elected to Congress and represent the people of the 6th District, they have expectations. I will try and honor those expectations. They want the people that they elect, that they hire to serve them, to understand what that means – to serve them not their own interests. I don’t know if that makes me like Mark Kennedy or it makes me like Michele Bachmann.
2. Would you accept an endorsement from Michele Bachmann if she were to offer her support in the primary?
Emmer: Absolutely I would if that’s what she wanted to do. But let’s make no mistake about it: I’m going to run for the people of the 6th District. I’m offering Tom Emmer, and my experience and my background. I’m not trying to be Mark Kennedy, I’m not trying to be Michele Bachmann. I’m not trying to be anybody but who I am.
3. Many Minnesota Republicans privately malign the party's endorsement process. Do you plan to pursue the state party's endorsement and, if you don't get it, will you drop out of the race before the primary?
Emmer: If you’re hearing from people who don’t like the endorsement process, you’re talking to a very narrow sliver of the Republican Party in Minnesota... You’re not talking to the grassroots Republicans in the state of Minnesota. I would suggest to you that the grassroots in Minnesota will ultimately overwhelm this small group of big money, well-heeled, King- and Queen-makers who want to bypass the endorsement process. ...I think the endorsement is the most important part of the initial phase of the process. You are literally offering yourself to serve. More important than an air war of commercials, more important than robocalls, more important than mailers. It’s face-to-face retail experience with people who are offering to serve.
4. How much money do you think you’ll need to raise in this race?
Emmer: I think overall, if you go through to a general election, it’s a $3 million to $5 million race.
5. A story from the Minnesota Star Tribune said you often rode the bus to the Minnesota State Capitol. If you’re elected to Congress, will you take the Metro?
Emmer: Absolutely! Why wouldn’t I?
Note: Every year, scores of congressional candidates visit the CQ Roll Call offices to meet with reporters and Contributing Writer Stuart Rothenberg. This new feature, “The Candidate,” will ask these congressional hopefuls five questions about their campaigns. Responses have been edited and condensed.
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