In the end, the announcement was classic Michele Bachmann: Done her way, in a YouTube video, in the middle of the morning and away from the scrutiny of the press.
"My good friends, after a great deal of thought and deliberation I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth term to represent the wonderful people of the 6th District of Minnesota," Bachmann said in a video posted on her website early Wednesday morning.
"I was surprised because Michele Bachmann is somebody who clearly loved being in Congress," said Republican analyst Brian McClung.
She also had a string of recent success, helping pass the funding for the new St. Croix River Crossing, and just last month led the vote in the Republican House to repeal President Obama's health care plan.
It was her ardent opposition to Obamacare that propelled her failed presidential campaign. But allegations of illegal payments to an Iowa state senator and the misuse of an email list of home-school providers led to a congressional ethics investigation.
On a recent stop at the Minnesota State Capitol, Bachmann denied any wrongdoing. Up until Wednesday's announcement, she gave every impression she was not backing down.
POLITICAL SHOCKER AND GAME CHANGER
Bachmann's decision to not run for Congress again might be the political shocker of the year. It also poses a new challenge for Democrats in the 6th District.
"We were really surprised at the timing of the announcement because she had gone on a pretty aggressive TV campaign," said Jim Graves, her Democratic challenger in the 6th District.
For Graves, this dramatically changes the race.
"They don't have Michele Bachmann to kick around anymore," McClung said. "She was a great fundraising tool for Democrats and they were able to run against her and the things she said over the years. So with her out of the race this seat becomes very hard for Democrats."
The 6th congressional district is the strongest Republican home in Minnesota. The partisan voting index gives it a 10 point advantage to the GOP. Mitt Romney finished 15 points ahead of Obama, and John McCain 12 points.
"The fact of the matter is that Amy Klobuchar does very well up there and she's a Democrat, so people are very independent-spirited up there," McClung said. "They vote for the right person who has the right message and can bring the message across to the people in the district."
THE NEW CANDIDATES
Bachmann's exit opens the field for Republicans, and there are many names that have surfaced already.
Late Wednesday afternoon, former gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer expressed interest in running.
Former House Majority Leader Matt Dean said that he is also giving this serious thought.
Sen. Michelle Benson said she wants to talk to her family about it, and Sen. John Pederson of St. Cloud said he would consider it if he could get enough support.
One prominent name not in the running is current St. Cloud Mayor Dave Klies. He said that he left partisan politics to run for mayor and for the moment really likes his job.