"I don't think she'll run for reelection," Kent Kaiser, a Minnesota GOP operative who supports Mitt Romney for president but remains a Bachmann fan, wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press. She could try instead for an appointment in a new Republican administration, he wrote, or consider a potentially lucrative spot on the speaking circuit.
Kaiser said that Bachmann might try to model her path after the one taken by another tea party favorite, Sarah Palin, who as John McCain's running mate in 2008 was the first woman on a national GOP ticket. Palin, who considered a 2012 presidential run herself, resigned as Alaska's governor to join the speaking circuit and write a book.
"She must look at Palin and believe she could be even better in the media, as a kingmaker, and as a speaker," Kaiser said.
Bachmann didn't tip her hand about future political plans during her concession speech Wednesday in Des Moines but vowed to remain engaged in issues, especially in her opposition to changes in federal health-care law.
"Make no mistake: I will continue to fight for our country," she said.
Bachmann's strength is considerable in her district, which starts in the suburbs east of St. Paul and loops north to St. Cloud. Though she spent much of the past half-year out of state on the presidential trail, no Republican or notable Democrat dared announce a campaign for her seat. In previous races, Bachmann raised piles of money and easily handled well-funded Democratic opponents; the woman Bachmann defeated in 2010 moved to another district to try her luck this year against a less formidable incumbent.
"It's hard to see who would want to or be able to mount a serious challenge to her if she wants to run for reelection," said Harry Niska, a Republican activist in the Sixth District.