Bachmann wins U.S. House seat in 6th

Bachmann and Wetterling had been in a statistical dead heat before voting.

In the most expensive congressional race in state history, Republican Michele Bachmann defeated Democrat Patty Wetterling Tuesday to take the 6th Congressional District seat, vacated by Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy.

Kennedy left the seat to run for Senate, but lost to Democrat Amy Klobuchar.

After months of clashing ideologies, advertising and neck-and-neck polls, the race between Wetterling, a national child advocate, and Bachmann, a state senator from Stillwater, came to a close.

Bachmann won the race with 49.84 percent of the vote, with 74.4 precincts reporting. Wetterling received 42.23 percent and John Binkowski, the Independence Party candidate, received 7.86 percent.

Bachmann thanked her family and supporters and spoke to media Tuesday night.

“It’s been a marathon,” she said, referring to the race, “but it’s felt like a sprint.”

Bachmann said she is looking forward to going to Washington, “high heels and all.”

Soon after Bachmann declared victory, Wetterling offered her concession speech.

“Because we stood up for what we believed in, we did win, we all did,” Wetterling said.

Polls leading up to Election Day showed the two candidates at either a statistical dead heat or one candidate with only a marginal lead.

A KSTP-TV poll conducted and released by SurveyUSA Saturday showed Bachmann leading Wetterling 49 percent to 42 percent. The survey reached 698 “likely” voters.

Despite the old saying “the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day,” the poll wasn’t too far off.

The intense race between Bachmann and Wetterling took the focus off Binkowski, a 27-year-old construction manager and Independence Party candidate. He lost the election following a modestly financed, primarily positive campaign.

Student reaction

Many students at the University are eligible to vote in the 6th District, which wraps around the Twin Cities from Stillwater to St. Cloud.

Student volunteers canvassed the University to register absentee voters or encourage students to make the drive home to vote.

Before the outcome was clear, family and social sciences first-year student Emily Malm said she wasn’t surprised Bachmann was leading because the district that she would represent has a lot of money, and people with money aren’t “liberal leaning.”

Malm drove back to Stillwater to vote because, “we don’t need any more Michele Bachmann.”

“More people need to realize how extreme she is. She’s the right wing of the right wing.” Malm said.

Many young people supported Bachmann and turned up at the Republican headquarters at the Sheraton Hotel in south Minneapolis to watch the results throughout the night.

One group called Gen J, or Generation Joshua, rallied middle school and high school students to pass out campaign literature and call voters for Bachmann.

Patrick Henry College (Virginia) journalism senior Adrienne Cumbus is a volunteer leader for Gen J. Originally from Houston, she said she came to support Bachmann because the candidate doesn’t try to appeal to everyone – instead, she knows her own values.

“She’s very articulate in what she says,” Cumbus said. “She’s not sitting on the fence.”

– Lee VandenBusch contributed to this report.