Jim Graves was a guitar playing surprise at his own star-studded sing-along fund-raiser Tuesday, Aug. 28 at the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud.
Graves, the DFL party-endorsed candidate who is opposing incumbent Rep. Michele Bachmann, accompanied his wife Julie who sang to him, “The First Time I saw Your Face.” He said it’s the first time the two have sung together in 30 years.
(Graves and his wife earned a living performing as professional folk musicians in venues in the Sixth District, while he was completing his degree in education at the St. Cloud university.)
While the event was harmonious, Graves campaign chair, his son Adam, had a discordant message for Bachmann, wondering why she hasn’t responded to their invitation to debates, sent by certified mail a month ago.
“It’s hard to respond when she’s out in Washington D.C., New York and giving speeches outside her district,” Adam Graves said. “We’d like to have a series of debates with her in all regions of the district, but so far not one debate is scheduled.”
Bachmann Campaign Manager Chase Kroll said Wednesday, Aug. 29 that Rep. Bachmann is looking forward to debating Graves. He said the first debate is being scheduled.
The Graves campaign will accelerate after Labor Day, although his chair says Graves has been well received at the ice cream socials, parades and county fairs he’s attended this summer.
Sixth District Chair Bill Usher of Ham Lake, who was at the sing-along, said Graves needs to tap into the anti-incumbency mood among voters with his message that he is a successful businessman. “The Sixth District has a higher rate of unemployment compared to the rest of the state and Jim can do the job of improving the lives in his district,” Usher said. “Our current representative hasn’t done anything like that.”
On his web site, Graves promotes himself as a businessman who has built more than a hundred businesses and creating thousands of private sector jobs in small towns and cities throughout the Sixth District and across the state. His business, Graves Hospitality, founded the AmericInn motel chain.
Graves struck a high note at the sing-along, saying he intends to run a positive campaign. “It’s time we come together as a country and that we find solutions to real problems. Everything that’s wrong with America can be fixed with what’s right with America.”
The performers at the event included the George Maurer group, Dan Chouinard, Prudence Johnson, Maria Jett, Ann Reed, Pat Curto, the Reynold Philipsek Trio, Paul Drinkwine, Anna Mae and Fred Vagle and Lee Vague.
Volunteers in the lobby were selling T-shirts for $25, saying “I dig Graves.” Observers wonder how many votes he can dig up.