WASHINGTON – US congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a favorite of the ultra-conservative Tea Party Movement who ran for president last year, said Wednesday she will not seek re-election in 2014.
The Minnesota representative insisted her decision was unrelated to an ethics probe of her former presidential campaign and appeared to leave the door open to a future run for national office.
“I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth congressional term,” Bachmann, 57, said in an eight-minute video posted on her campaign website.
“My decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected to Congress,” she said.
US media reported in March that the Office of Congressional Ethics had launched a preliminary investigation into the possible misuse of 2012 campaign funds, but Bachmann herself has faced no allegations of wrongdoing.
Bachmann insisted her decision to stand down “was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff.”
The once obscure congresswoman emerged as an early darling of the Tea Party movement in 2010 and became a regular presence on conservative media.
The former tax lawyer staked out positions against big government, with calls for slashing taxes and debt, while touting her credentials as a Christian evangelical opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage.
Her presidential campaign caught fire when she won the informal Iowa straw poll in 2011 but fizzled in the crowded Republican primary field long before former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney eventually secured the party’s nod.
Bachmann’s campaign frequently ignited controversy, as when she linked the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to “mental retardation.”
Bachmann dropped out of the presidential race in January 2012 after coming in sixth in the Iowa caucuses.
But in announcing her decision not to seek a fifth congressional term she hinted she would remain active in politics, perhaps by seeking higher office.
“There is no future option or opportunity, be it directly in the political arena or otherwise, that I won’t be giving serious consideration if it can help save and protect our great nation for future generations,” she said.
“I fully anticipate the mainstream liberal media to put a detrimental spin on my decision not to seek a fifth term,” she added.
“I take being a focus of their attention and disparagement as a true compliment of my public service effectiveness.”