The next U.S. presidential election is three years away but surely enough, the tide of speculation about Democrat candidates is beginning to rise. A number of names have emerged just weeks after Donald J. Trump was elected 45th POTUS. Some in the media and political circles see former VP Joe Biden as a candidate. Others are going with rising star in junior senator from California, Kamala Harris. Elsewhere, Deval Patrick is all but running away from encouragement of President Barack Obama and his top adviser David Axelrod.
As all this is playing out, a senator from Minnesota – not named Al Franken – is seeing her name mentioned as a viable candidate. Much lesser known nationally than Franken, Amy Klobuchar has in fact represented Minnesotans in the Senate for 10 years and very well could be poised to run in 2020.
Klobuchar’s path to Democrat Party nomination is far from certain, and she still has to fight off a challenge from a Republican state representative in next year’s midterms. Here’s what you need to know about the former prosecutor, author and politician:
1. Klobuchar, 57, Is the 1st Woman Elected to a Minnesota U.S. Senate Seat
A native of Plymouth, Minnesota, Klobuchar’s Senate bio plays up her deep roots in the state. It describes her grandfather working “1500 feet underground in the iron ore mines.” Her father was a “newspaperman” and her mother “an elementary school teacher who continued teaching until she was 70.”
Klobuchar was elected to the Senate in 2006 and was re-elected in 2012 in a landslide. Prior to her political career, Klobuchar for eight years headed “the largest prosecutor’s office” in the state, in Hennepin County, where she made “prosecution of violent and career criminals her top priority.”
Klobuchar graduate magna cum laude from Yale University and earned her JD at the University of Chicago School of Law. She served two terms as Hennepin County attorney, first elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2002 with no opposition. She was president of Minnesota County Attorneys Association from 2002-03.
Klobuchar’s husband John Bessler, a native of Mankato, Minnesota, is an attorney in private practice and professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Her daughter, Abigail Klobuchar Bessler, was born in 1995.
2. She Sidestepped Rumors That She Will Run in 2020 — But it Was at a Democratic Party Fundraiser in the All-Important State of Iowa
In May, Klobuchar traveled to Iowa where she cheered for local Democrats and talked “jobs, education and rural broadband” with locals. She sidestepped the question around her presidential aspirations. Yet, her public appearance at the fundraiser in Polk County was perceived as a warm-up for a presidential campaign precisely because she was “one of the first national politicians to venture” into Iowa since Trump’s election.
Klobuchar had a 72 percent approval rating in her home state when she visited Des Moines, with Minnesotans across party lines approving of her job performance. By contrast, Al Franken had a 58 percent approval rating in the same Minnesota Poll. Despite calling her “terrific,” Franken stopped just short of backing Klobuchar in 2020.
The New Yorker wasted no time after Trump’s victory over Clinton in November to declare female candidates for the next race and placed Klobuchar first. According to the magazine’s Amy Davidson Sorkin, “there will be a dozen Democratic female senators with more experience” than U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the finalists for the Republican Party’s nod.
3. She Co-Sponsored a Measure to Create an Independent Commission to Probe Russia’s Alleged Role in the 2016 Election
Klobuchar, a classmate of the fired FBI director James Comey at the University of Chicago Law School, is a ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee. She serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she co-sponsored a measure to create a commission to determine whether Russia in fact interfered in the 2016 elections.
Whether Klobuchar’s push for the Russia probe will benefit her presidential bid is not certain, which is the case with many Democrats eyeing the 2020 election. Klobuchar can claim legislative successes such as being part of a committee that negotiated an agreement between the Senate and the House to pass the Farm Bill in 2014.
More recently, she was one of 31 senators to sponsor a bill that would leverage “the bargaining power of seniors for a better deal on prescription drug costs.” The bill would let Medicare negotiate best possible prices for 41 million seniors on Medicare Part D. The status quo allows for pharmaceutical companies to set prices.
4. After One Failed in 2012, Another Republican State Representative is Running for Klobuchar’s Seat in 2018
Could the second time produce a different outcome for the opposition to Klobuchar and the Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party? That’s certainly what the Republicans are hoping for in the state. However, recent history is not on the Republican side — and neither is poll data that shows Klobuchar’s dominance.
In 2006, Klobuchar won 58.1 percent of the vote to Republican candidate Mark Kennedy’s 37.9 percent. For her re-election in 2012, Klobuchar defeated State Rep. Kurt Bills, garnering 65.2 percent of the vote to Bills’ 30.5 percent.
Last week, state Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker) announced his campaign to unseat the incumbent. His agenda includes promises to “work to repeal the Affordable Care Act, simplify the tax code and bring down the national debt,” The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. The state legislator is an abortion opponent and indicated “refugee resettlement program” was also in his scope.
5. Klobuchar Is an Author of 2 Books: A 2015 Memoir She called ‘the anti-Trump Book’ & Another About the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Klobuchar turned her senior essay into a book titled “Uncovering the Dome” published in 1986. The text chronicles the decade-long history of building the Metrodome and “is still used at colleges and universities across the country,” according to her Senate bio.
In 2015, Klobuchar also published a memoir titled “The Senator Next Door: A Memoir From The Heartland.” She called it ‘the anti-Trump book’ more than a year before the object of her sarcasm was actually elected president.
While it should come as no surprise that both the memoir and the ‘Dome’ book are on Amazon, it may be a little surprising the online retailer already has ‘Klobuchar 2020’ merch as well (Then again, there are also shirts for other Democrats, including Hillary Clinton).