Jim Graves, Democratic challenger to Rep. Michele Bachmann: The City Pages interview

CP: You've already secured the endorsement of the hospitality union Unite Here. As a business owner, what sorts of company-wide policies have you supported to make your hotels good places to work?

Graves: Our hotel workers are organized. The way we treat all our hotel workers and guests and investors is all about ethics and integrity and we all work hard together for a common goal. Graves, Marriot, the Residence Inn downtown -- talk to staff, they'll say 'they treat us like family, very, very respectfully.' They want the same things that I want, they want to get up and be treated with dignity. They also know that I want them to have good family lives and be able to support their lifestyle. Have homes, have access to health care, and they know we really care about them.

When it comes to our [labor] contracts, we sit across the table and talk. Our interests aren't mutually exclusive but mutually beneficial. The company has to make money and our employees and staff have to have a good life and good livable wages. The people who work for me and my company treat people with respect.
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Graves on Bachmann: "She hasn't run into a business person like me before."

CP: Was your decision to run motivated primarily by a desire to hold public office or more by the desire to defeat Michele Bachmann?

Graves: Ten weeks ago, did I have any interest in being a politician? I had no thoughts of doing it. I actually got the idea watching Chris Matthews. He was saying 'where are the people in this country that are really true citizens and can fix this mess in Washington?' I was up at my lake home and they said, 'Jim, you really got to do this, the country needs a change.' And I decided, heck, I'm going to do it.

For one thing, in business, we like the truth and facts and like things to be based on reality and I don't think that's necessarily happening right now. I really do love this county and I think we deserve better than that. I see in Michele Bachmann a person who is willing to bend the facts and bend what's happening on the ground -- that doesn't relate to the district or the people. There is a way to do this civilly. I've always got things done by bringing people together. If we have a common cause and a common goal, I think the time has come to bring people together for the common good.

CP: You said you don't think Bachmann relates to the people of the 6th District. Then why do you think she's been able to win three elections to the U.S. House?

Graves: I think she probably is as good as anybody at effectively communicating with people from 30,000 feet. She has a very strong image. She's virtually a cash machine, has a lot of money, and she will this time too. She gets a message out there that isn't necessary accurate but it is effective, but she hasn't run into [a challenger] who is a business person that has created jobs, that understands how to get things done, is tenacious and street smart. She hasn't run into a business person like me before. When she talks about the economy or jobs she is going to be talking to somebody who really knows what's going on. The bottom line is we have to get things done. I think she's going to have to address the issues head on.

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