In a dramatic show of the strength of social-issue conservatives, Republicans in Minnesota’s 6th District (suburban Twin Cities) resoundingly nominated State Sen. Michele Bachmann for the open U.S. House seat. On the third ballot at the districtwide GOP convention, Stillwater tax attorney Bachmann — senate sponsor of a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and an unabashed opponent of the Bush "No Child Left Behind" federal education program — drew 61% of the vote over three opponents. State Rep. Jim Knoblach of St. Cloud drew 21%, followed by State Rep. Phil Krinkle of Lino Lakes with 10%, and businessman Jay Esmay’s 7%. Although all three were considered strong conservatives, none could match the fervent following of the magnetic Bachmann, who likened herself in energy and enthusiasm to late, outspoken far-left Sen. Paul Wellstone (D.-Minn.), calling herself "a Wellstone of the right." Her win was also, as the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported after the convention, "a demonstration that for many of Minnesota’s most-active Republicans, social values trump fiscal values."
Before the balloting, all of the candidates agreed in writing to abide by the vote of the convention and, following the balloting, Bachmann’s nomination was made unanimous. With Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy leaving the seat to run for the Senate, Democrats in Minnesota and Washington have made the 6th District a top target for takeover. Two heavyweight Democrats are vying for nomination for the open seat: former State Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg and Patty Wetterling, a nationally known advocate for missing children who drew 46% of the vote against Kennedy in ’04. That same year, George W. Bush carried the district with 57% of the vote.