Klobuchar appears set to announce presidential run

February 10, 2019
Senator Amy Klobuchar May 19,2018

Sen. Amy Klobuchar appears set to reveal whether she will run for president, but from the viewpoint of local political observers, the surprise would be if she didn’t run.

Klobuchar, a three-term senator from Minnesota, is expected to make the announcement Sunday at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis.

“See you at Boom Island. As in boom, drop the mic,” Klobuchar tweeted Friday.

According to her office’s press release, there’s going to be hot cocoa, cookies and live entertainment. Who gives downer news at a party?

If she does run, Klobuchar will join a large and cacophonous field of DFL candidates, many of whom are trying to outdo each other in bidding for the attentions of the party’s progressive wing.

Some see a more difficult path to the Democratic nomination for Klobuchar, given her more moderate views in a populist era.

Olmsted County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden recalls meeting Klobuchar in the mid-1990s and getting the impression then that Klobuchar was a women seeking elected office. Kiscaden at the time was a newly elected senator, and Klobuchar hadn’t yet been elected Hennepin County attorney.

Even then, Klobuchar was seen as someone with a lot of political promise. And the way she aligned herself with political mentors who could help her, it was evident she was going places.

“It was clear to me that this was a women who was seeking public office, and it’s been clear to me for some time that Sen. Klobuchar has had the intention of running for president,” Kiscaden said.

Kiscaden said her sense that Klobuchar was eyeing a presidential run has continued through Klobuchar’s Senate career, as Kiscaden watched Klobuchar manage her role as U.S. Senator and sought opportunities to make a difference. Talking to her staffers has reinforced the impression.

“One person literally said: She expected to be staffed as if she were president,” Kiscaden said.

Some are excited that Klobuchar will put a spotlight on Minnesota.

“It will help elevate Minnesota’s profile nationally. She’s a strong and well-respected candidate who knows how to handle bullies,” said Pernell Meier, a Rochester area DFL stalwart.

Former GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann was the last Minnesotan to run for president. Only two Minnesotans have run at the top of the ticket for, Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey, and both lost.

Republican Party of Olmsted County vice chairman Bill Kuisle said that losing streak is one reason he is skeptical Klobuchar can become president. No one from Minnesota has done it before. He also sees the party’s leftward tilt as problematic for her.

“With the field and Democratic Party being so far to the left, I don’t see her being able to attract the core group that she’s going to have to attract,” Kuisle said.

Klobuchar’s expected candidacy has gotten a boost from unexpected quarters. One was from conservative columnist George Will, who said Klobuchar’s “special strength” was her temperament. He also noted Klobuchar’s political moderation, a feature that could appeal to general election voters.

“Klobuchar is the potential top-tier candidate most apt to resist forfeiting the general election while winning the nomination,” Will wrote.

Still, the heightened media scrutiny given to presidential hopefuls has already produced a crop of negative stories about her alleged mistreatment and toughness on staff. Media reports say that exacting reputation has made it difficult for her to find a campaign manager.

“She has high expectations. She expects a lot of competence and dedication,” Kiscaden said. “She expects everything to be well-planned and well-prepared, not casual. It’s very focused.”

Klobuchar has displayed a skill in appealing to a large swath of the political spectrum. In her last election, in 2018, she won 60 percent of the vote and took all eight congressional districts. She also won in counties that voted for Trump.

John Swanson, DFL chairman for Senate District 28, said he’s never heard a criticism of Klobuchar from progressives before, unlike, say, DFL Gov. Tim Walz, whose position on guns concerned some DFL voters.

“She’s pretty popular across Minnesota,” Swanson said.

Update hourly