Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is an underrated strong candidate with a unique bipartisan approach to policy-making, argues Gen Z voice Kayla Glaraton.
A common assumption about Minnesotans is that we do not like to brag about our accomplishments. While this is mostly true – “Minnesota Nice” is real – we do have a few things that we cannot help but boast about, like Prince and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
She is articulate, honest, grounded, persistent, and trustworthy. She is respected across the state for her commitment to issues facing all Minnesotans. She is known for her willingness to work with the other side and her dedication to bipartisan efforts, a characteristic no longer common on the Senate floor.
Klobuchar announced her run for president Feb. 10 in true Minnesotan fashion. Standing on the banks of the Mississippi, she did not let a snowstorm stop her from sharing her vision of what America could be. While not many Minnesotans were surprised by the announcement from the three-term senator, there was great excitement at the prospect of the first Minnesotan president.
Mentored by former Vice President, and notable Minnesotan, Walter Mondale, Klobuchar is well respected by both her Democrat and Republican colleagues. She has passed more laws than any other Senator. Her laws are not solely focused on progressive ideals but cover a wider range of bipartisan issues. She not only worked closely with the late John McCain, but she was also a good friend.
Klobuchar gained national attention and an SNL mention, last September during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Klobuchar questioned Kavanaugh about his truthfulness regarding his alcohol use in college. These questions came after allegations from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her in high school.
“So, you’re saying there’s never been a case where you drank so much that you didn’t remember what happened the night before or part of what happened?” Klobuchar asked.
“I don’t know. Have you?” said Kavanaugh, who later apologized for his words.
“I have no drinking problem,” a stunned Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar, who has spoken about her father’s alcoholism, was praised for how she handled the questioning. Minnesotans were proud she should the rest of the country how calm and collected she is when confronting difficult and uncomfortable situations.
Staff Abuse Allegations
Klobuchar has the highest staff turnover rate of any United States Senator. In February, she was met with staff abuse allegations, published in Buzzfeed and the New York Times. Former staffers, in Feb. 22 New York Times article, painted a scene of a demeaning and demanding workplace dominated by fear and anger. A Vanity Fair piece said aides likened her to the 45th president.
Responding to questions on CNN, Klobuchar acknowledged that she has high expectations for herself and her staff. “I know I can be tough, I know I can push people too hard,” she told the Star Tribune, the Minnesota newspaper her father, Jim, once wrote for.
In the face of these allegations, many staffers came out and supported Klobuchar, recalling fond memories and kind gestures. They recognized that she pushes them to be better and work harder, not only because she has high expectations for those around her, but because the work must be thorough and exact.
Other Obstacles to Presidency
Besides the allegations, Klobuchar faces several other significant hurdles if she wants to ultimately move into the house on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She does not have the celebrity factor other candidates like Beto O’Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have. Although she raised $5.2 million in the first quarter, it is nowhere near the $12 million Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) or $18.2 million Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raised.
Klobuchar will need to figure out how to transfer her bipartisan support in Minnesota and the Senate to bipartisan support across the country. Minnesota is a political microcosm of the United States, with the democratic majority living in the cities and the Republican minority spread across the heartland. Many Minnesotans see her as the candidate most likely to appeal to moderate Republicans. They hope she can bring back voters from Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, key states in Trump’s 2016 victory.
Can Klobuchar win the primaries?
Despite Minnesota sitting in the middle of the Midwest, it has shined blue on every presidential election night since 1976. Greater Minnesota, with the big woods to the north and great plains to the south and west, tends to swing more conservative. The Twin Cities, where the majority of Minnesotans live, is decidedly more liberal.
While Donald Trump narrowly lost the state in 2016, losing to Hillary Clinton by 1.5 percent of the vote, Klobuchar won her three senatorial elections by large margins. In 2018, she won with 60 percent of the vote, in both firmly Republican and firmly Democratic regions of Minnesota.
One of her greatest strengths is her ability to appeal to everyone. She is not definitively liberal and recognizes that many of the progressive talking points, such as tuition-free universities, are impractical.
Her pragmatism does not mean she is not aiming for a better America that supports every person. It shows her intelligence and deep commitment to leading the country into a better future, rather than getting more donations or Instagram followers.
Minnesotans are tough, pragmatic, team members, or, as everyone says, nice. We are not prone to boasting and like to avoid conflict. However, that does not mean we are not proud of our state and our senator. Even if it seems like a long shot for Klobuchar to break out of the crowded field of Democrats, many in the Bold North consider her one of the most capable candidates heading into 2020.