Today, Amy Klobuchar announced her candidacy for president, and while I was going to take a break from these I was quite literally bribed into doing one, so here we are. It’s part six of our neverending story, mortals.
NAME: Amy Jean Klobuchar
CAN I CALL HER A.J.?: Probably not
CURRENT JOB: U.S. Senator from Minnesota
PREVIOUS JOB: Hennepin County Attorney
DON’TCHA KNOW: You betcha
Amy Klobuchar is, as Wikipedia says, “daughter of Rose Katherine (née Heuberger), who retired at age 70 from teaching second grade,” and Jim Klobuchar, a sportswriter. She has a law degree from the University of Chicago and worked as a county prosecutor in Hennepin County, which includes the Minneapolis half of the Twin Cities.
Klobuchar’s early life is a little shorter than some of the other candidates because she went from “county attorney” to “U.S. Senator.” This is different from most of the other candidates who have so far declared, who either held state offices, served in Congress, or were part of the federal bureaucracy prior to serving in the Senate.
And I do mean “prior to serving in the Senate”. Of the nine major candidates, just four aren’t currently senators (and that generously includes Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and John Delaney and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as “major candidates”, which is somewhat unproven). Democrats tend to pick current or former senator; the party’s last four nominees – Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Al Gore – were all senators, with Clinton and Gore having held another job between serving in the Senate and winning the nomination.
So if serving in the Senate is a barometer for success, it’s worth detailing Klobuchar’s Senate history. First elected in 2006, she is the longest-serving senator currently in the race*. She’s been pretty successful in her campaigns in Minnesota, a fairly blue state. And in the Senate, she has a reputation as a doer, accomplishing an impressive slate of legislation that rivals quite literally every other sitting senator. She’s known for reaching across the aisle, especially on defense and finance bills.
“Reaching across the aisle on defense and finance” means pretty much what you think it does.
She’s supported several bills that trade civil liberties for security, or at least that’s what libertarians will tell you. Notably that includes the Protect America Act of 2007, signed into law by President George W. Bush, which said the government would no longer need warrants before conducting surveillance that involved foreigners or passed through foreign countries, even if Americans were involved or even the target of that surveillance.
She’s also taken actions to support major industries, including successfully getting pizza sauce acknowledged as a vegetable for school lunch purposes and a blanket effort to make streaming copyrighted video games and movies more difficult, even for uses that courts have recognized as valid.
Klobuchar has also resisted called to abolish ICE and replace it with one or more narrower agencies.
She’s also developed a reputation from former employees as difficult to work with. Some Democrats say that isn’t a big problem because (a) voters rarely care about inside baseball and (b) it plays more to a folksy charming “no-nonsense” image, but here’s a counter-point: Donald Trump is difficult to work with.
That’s isn’t meant as the modern version of “Hitler was a vegetarian” or whatever, but rather to highlight that one of the most constant things about the Trump campaign and presidency is turnover. If Klobuchar can’t offer stability, what is the alternative she’s offering? Instability, but it’s a Democrat this time?