Amy Klobuchar is the US Senator from Minnesota. On February 10 Klobuchar formally announced her plan to run for the Democratic nomination to the White House in 2020. She is now the fifth US Senator — and the fourth female Senator — to enter the crowded race. Klobuchar made her announcement at an outdoor event on Boom Island, a park in Minneapolis which was covered in snow. Klobuchar’s supporters told CNN that the fact that the candidate made her announcement outside, on a snowy February afternoon, highlighted her deep Minnesota roots.
“It just truly represents Minnesota,” said Renee Anderson, a 22-year old from Bloomington. “If somebody doesn’t want to come to an event that is outside in Minnesota, do they really live here? Are they really excited?” Scott Herzog, a 50-year-old manufacturer from West St. Paul, said, “This is true Minnesota: Snow and Amy Klobuchar.”
Here’s what you need to know about Amy Klobuchar’s 2020 campaign:
1. Klobuchar Talked About Her ‘Grit’ & Her Working Class Roots During Her Announcement
In her prepared remarks announcing that she plans to run for the presidency, Klobuchar talked about her working class upbringing and stressed her strong ties to her community. Klobuchar said, “I’m asking you to join us on this campaign. It’s a homegrown one. I don’t have a political machine. I don’t come from money,” Klobuchar will say according to excerpts of her prepared remarks. “But what I do have is this: I have grit. I have family. I have friends. I have neighbors. I have all of you who are willing to come out in the middle of the winter, all of you who took the time to watch us today, all of you who are willing to stand up and say people matter.”
A large, cheering crowd was on hand to watch Klobuchar’s announcement, in spite of the icy weather and the snow on the ground in the Minnneapolis park, Boom Island, where the Minnesota Senator launched her 2020 campaign. Klobuchar also praised Minnesota’s diversity, turning to the poet Walt Whitman to talk about the value of America’s many voices.
2. Klobuchar Polls Behind Other Likely Democratic Contenders but May Have More ‘Electability’ Than Others in the Race
Klobuchar consistently polls behind other Democratic contenders to the White House, in what has already become a crowded and closely-watched race. One poll recent poll of likely Iowa voters ranked the Minnesota Senator as the fourth most popular out of a list of possible candidates. Ten percent of those polled said that Klobuchar was their candidate of choice, putting her behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who received 30 percent; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who got 13 percent; and former Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who garnered 11 percent. But other, more recent polls put the Minnnesota Senator well behind most of the other Democratic contenders. In a February poll of likely Iowa voters, Klobuchar ranked in eighth place, with just 3 percent of those polled saying she was their top choice for the Democratic nomination for president.
However, some analysts have pointed out that Klobuchar may be more “electable” than some of her rivals. After all, Klobuchar was elected by a wide margin as a Democrat running for Senate in a “purple” state. She won that race by 24 points, and also notched up double-digit wins in 2006 and in 2012.
3. Klobuchar Is Less Progressive Than Many of Her Democratic Rivals for the 2020 Nomination
Klobuchar is generally known for her pragmatism and her moderation. Unlike some of the other Democrats running for the white House — like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris — Klobuchar has not said that she supports Medicare-for-All, which aims to create a single-payer healthcare plan for all Americans. Klobuchar has also not called for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to be abolished. As a senator, she is known for reaching across the aisle, often introducing bills which are co-sponsored by Republicans.
Before she ran for the Senate, Klobuchar was the top prosecutor in Hennepin County, Minnesota. During her tenure, the prosecutor’s office was known for its tough-on-crime stance, aggressively prosecuting repeat offenders for crimes ranging from gang violence to drunk driving. She was re-elected with no opponent in 2002.
4. Klobuchar Came to National Attention During the Kavanaugh Hearings, When She Questioned the Nominee About His Drinking
Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, was among the many Democratic senators who had sharp questions for Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Klobuchar told the room that her own father had been an alcoholic; she then repeatedly asked Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault when he was in high school, whether he had ever blacked out from drinking. Kavanaugh tried to turn the question around on her, asking the senator about her own drinking. Klobuchar told him that she had never blacked out and did not have a drinking problem. Kavanaugh replied that he didn’t either. You can read their full exchange here.
Afterwards, Kavanaugh apologized, saying, “Just going to say I started my last colloquy by saying to Senator Klobuchar how much I respect her and respected what she did at the last hearing. And she asked me a question at the end that I responded by asking her a question and I didn’t — sorry, I did that. This is a tough process. I’m sorry about that.”
5. Klobuchar Has Come Under Fire for Allegedly Mistreating Her Staff
Four of Klobuchar’s former staffers told Buzzfeed that they were routinely humiliated over minor issues while they worked for Klobuchar. The staffers said that Klobuchar yelled at them and threw papers or other objects. In one case, a staffer ended up getting accidentally hit bya flying binder, according to one witness.
The staffers told Buzzfeed that Klobuchar regularly reduced her staffers to tears. “I cried, like, all the time,” one former aide said, referring to the time she’d spent working for Klobuchar. Some staffers showed Buzzfeed emails which Klobuchar had sent to them. Many of those emails were sent in the middle of the night and written in all caps; they berated employees over small mistakes like minor misunderstandings and misplaced commas.
A spokesperson for Klobuchar’s campaign told Buzzfeed that Klobuchar “loves” her staff and had a strong relationship with her aides. “Senator Klobuchar loves her staff — they are the reason she has gotten to where she is today. She has many staff who have been with her for years — including her Chief of Staff and her State Director, who have worked for her for 5 and 7 years respectively, as well as her political advisor Justin Buoen, who has worked for her for 14 years — and many who have gone on to do amazing things, from working in the Obama Administration (over 20 of them) to running for office to even serving as the Agriculture Commissioner for Minnesota,” a campaign spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “She is proud of them and the work they have done for Minnesota.”