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Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann wins tight race in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the Tea Party champion and failed Republican presidential nomination candidate, secured a fourth term by winning a very tight race for re-election against Democrat challenger businessman Jim Graves early on Wednesday.

Bachmann led Graves by 3,256 votes - or just under one percentage point - out of more than 351,000 votes cast in the Minnesota 6th Congressional District with 98.2 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial state elections returns.

In a statement released to NBC News, the Congresswoman said: "It has truly been an honor and a privilege to represent the people of Minnesota's Sixth District in Congress, and I am humbled that they have placed their trust in me for another term.

"I pledge to continue to work everyday to create jobs and do everything I can to make life more affordable for Minnesota's families. Our children and grandchildren deserve a future filled with opportunity in a country that is safe and secure, and that's what I'm fighting for in Washington."

A champion of Tea Party backers of smaller government and conservative on social issues such as abortion and gay rights, Bachmann was running in what has been regarded as the most conservative-leaning district in Minnesota.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

A look at the political life of the third-term Minnesota congresswoman who's running for the GOP nomination.

Her bid for the Republican presidential nomination until early in 2012 raised her name recognition nationally, but left her vulnerable to accusations by Graves that she was not representing district interests.

Her remarks, including an insistence on a link between an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Muslim Brotherhood, were denounced by some in her own party.

Bachmann, a former Minnesota state senator, has never won more than 53 percent of the vote in the district and won by only 3 percentage points in the last presidential election year of 2008.

The redrawing of districts after the 2010 census put Bachmann, who lives in Stillwater near the Minnesota border with Wisconsin, outside of the sprawling district that takes in suburbs to the east, north and west of Minneapolis and St. Paul and stretches northwest to include farms and smaller cities.

Friday's Deep Dive features NBC's Luke Russert giving a special look at Michelle Bachmann's uphill reelection battle for her House seat in Minnesota. MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry, Republican strategist Phil Musser, and The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus also join the discussion.

It was the nation's most expensive House race in terms of both money raised and spent by the candidates as of mid-October, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The candidates had raised a total of $22.7 million and spent $20.8 million, the center reported, but Bachmann had outspent Graves by more than 12-to-one.

Bachmann sought to tag Graves, founder of the AmericInn hotel chain and now the head of Graves Hospitality, as a supporter of President Barack Obama's health reform law in television ads early in the campaign.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's attacks against an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prompted Sen. John McCain to denounce her from the Senate floor on Wednesday. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports.

Later Bachmann commercials portrayed the congresswoman as focused on the needs of district residents and able to work across party lines to reach goals.

Graves, who describes himself as fiscally conservative, has said there are positives in the Obama healthcare program, but the "heavy lifting" has not yet begun. Graves also has said he believes Bachmann has been ineffective as a congresswoman.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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