The political landscape in the United States is set to lose one of its most outspoken - and polarising - characters with the announcement by Tea Party heroine Michele Bachmann that she will not be seeking re-election to the House of Representatives in her Minnesota constituency in next year’s mid-term elections.
It looks like a rather abrupt reversal of fortune for Ms Bachmann, who only two years ago was getting ready to run for the White House. After a promising start taking first place in the ritualistic Ames Straw Poll in Iowa in the summer of 2011, her star quickly faded once the race proper got under way.
After abandoning her bid for the Republican nomination early last year, Ms Bachmann faced a tight race to regain her congressional seat in her Minnesota constituency. She beat Republican hotelier Jim Graves by the slimmest of margins. He has indicated plans to run again next year.
Ms Bachmann is being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics amid claims she may have improperly used money raised by one of her House political action committees for her presidential run. Also, a former aide has alleged she stole a private email list of home-school supporters for her White Housecampaign.
“This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff,” Ms Bachmann said.
After being elected to Congress in 2006, Ms Bachmann was a fairly obscure presence on Capitol Hill at first. After the 2010 mid-term elections which saw the Republicans seize control of the House of Representatives with a surge of support from Tea Party voters, she harnessed that energy, founding the Tea Party caucus in the House and becoming the voice of small-government, anti-tax voters. She reminded some of Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican running mate.
A vigorous opponent of abortion rights and of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, she said she will not rule out a political comeback. “There is no future option or opportunity, directly in the political arena or otherwise, I won’t be giving serious consideration, if it can help save and protect our great nation,” she said.