In a snowstorm on Boom Island, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) touted her home state roots while announcing her ambitions for the highest office in the land.
I stand before you as the granddaughter of an iron ore miner, the daughter of a teacher and a newspaperman, the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the State of Minnesota, to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. pic.twitter.com/mNmvFQOJ5V
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) February 10, 2019
Sen. Klobuchar’s announcement was not a surprise, and followed a week of controversy over allegations of her treatment of staff. Still, there are those touting her “Midwest pragmatism” as a winning formula against the bombast of President Trump. She is the 5th woman to announce as a major candidate, and the 5th sitting US Senator in the ever-expanding 2020 race.
Klobuchar is popular with voters. At 58, she’s on her third term in the Senate — elections she’s won by landslide margins. She won reelection in 2018 by a whopping 26 points over Republican opponent Jim Newberger, including in 43 counties that President Donald Trump won in 2016.
She’s good at retail politics — a skill that’s served many candidates well in early caucus and primary states. She visits all 87 Minnesota counties every year, a fact she is quick to tell reporters. And she can fundraise; she famously once got her ex-boyfriend to donate $17,000 to her campaign.
But she also faces challenges. On the issues that that the Democratic Party’s base are prioritizing — Medicare-for-all, tuition-free college, a $15 minimum wage — Klobuchar is notably quiet. While other 2020 hopefuls like Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have made a point to sign on to major progressive legislation around health care and inequality, Klobuchar hasn’t. She’s earned a reputation as a moderate and has made a career of keeping out of the fights that will likely dominate the 2020 Democratic primary.
If there is a more moderate lane to be found in the 2020 Democratic Primary, many point to Sen. Klobuchar as the candidate to find that elusive sweet spot. But if one remains popular by carefully picking their battles, a POTUS run will quickly test many areas a candidate might otherwise wish to avoid. We will see how Sen. Klobuchar handles the voices of criticism from her left, and if she can brave them with a smile as well as she did the Minnesota cold on Boom Island today.