Klobuchar endorsed at DFL State Convention
by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
Minnesota’s first woman U.S. Senator is up for reelection.
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar received the State DFL Party’s seal of approval at the state party convention today (June 2) in Rochester.
Klobuchar, by unanimous acclaim, received the party’s endorsement.
She had no challengers.
“I wake every morning inspired by the spirit of Minnesota,” Klobuchar told the convention of about 1,000 delegates gathered in the Mayo Civic Center.
“I refuse to obey the fence lines,” she said of a willingness to reach across the aisle to Republicans.
“I get things done,” said Klobuchar.
The former Hennepin County Attorney won election six years ago by defeating Republican Sixth District Congressman Mark Kennedy by winning 58 percent of the vote.
Arguably Klobuchar’s popularity in Minnesota hasn’t waned, but strengthened.
A Public Policy poll in January showed 61 percent of Minnesotans approving Klobuchar’s job performance.
This is set against a Gallup poll in February showing a record low number of Americans, just ten percent, approving the job performance of Congress.
One political observer sees more to this than just luck.
“She’s (Klobuchar) got a knack for the nonpolitical,” said University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute Political Science Professor Larry Jacobs.
Klobuchar has “perfected the art” of constituency service, said Jacobs.
She focuses on obtaining passports, oversea adoptions, things lending themselves to a roll-up-the-sleeves, get-the-job-done persona, he explained.
Klobuchar is a loyal Democrat, Jacobs noted.
But her non ideological approach tends to diminish her political side, he explained.
DFL State Party Chairman Ken Martin views Klobuchar’s low-voltage ideology simply as the senator being true to herself.
“I just don’t think that’s the way Amy is,” said Martin of being confrontational.
Klobuchar is bright, dedicated, said Martin.
“She’s a workhorse,” he said.
She’ll run for reelection like she’s ten points behind, Martin said.
Washington insiders periodically point to Klobuchar as a possible presidential candidate.
Although saying he has never spoken to Klobuchar about the presidency and that she’s wholly focused on reelection, Martin doesn’t dismiss the idea.
“I don’t think it’s outside of the realm of possibility,” he said.
Klobuchar, asked about her name being tossed out as a future presidential candidate, left a light shining from under the door.
“I love my job. I love representing Minnesota. And that’s all I’m focused on right now,” she said.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken sees several factors contributing to the popularity of the state’s senior senator.
“I think she works incredibly hard,” said Franken.
“I think the people of Minnesota see her as someone who works across party lines,” he said.
“And she’s also incredibly smart,” said Franken.
Although Franken was the professional comedian prior to running for the Senate, Klobuchar is known for a keen sense of humor.
“Amy is very funny,” said Franken.
“I say she’s the second funniest member of the Senate. And she says I’m the second most popular senator in Minnesota,” said Franken, laughing.
Where does Klobuchar get her sense of humor?
“She’s her father’s daughter,” said Franken.
Klobuchar’s father, former Star Tribune columnist Jim Klobuchar, wrote a humorous column, Franken explained.
And children, like his own, growing up in a home where a parent earns a living through humor, become students of the art, he said.
Klobuchar has an instinctual understanding of the mechanics of humor, explained Franken.
And this includes knowing where to stop.
“Does every joke that comes into my head find its way into the public — no,” he said.
“Nor does Amy’s,” said Franken.
Klobuchar points less to learning the rhythms of humor from her father than a sense that the odds get stacked up against some people and they need help.
But her father too, through living life with zest and humor, taught her something else.
“Don’t take yourself so seriously all the time,” said Klobuchar.
“And that’s one of the problems with some politicians,” she said.
Republicans, as might be expected, view Klobuchar skeptically.
They’ve argued Klobuchar’s job approval rating is misleading — when drilling down on specific issues, approval numbers shrink.
Republican Party endorsed U.S. Senate candidate, Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, depicts Klobuchar as an intrenched member of the out-of-control, big government, big-spending Washington fraternity.
“The policies of (President Barack) Obama and Klobuchar have produced a booming economy in Washington D.C. but has left the average Minnesotans behind,” said Bills in a statement.
While Klobuchar’s popularity and $5 million campaign war chest makes her a formidable political opponent, Jacobs doesn’t consider Klobuchar’s reelection a given.
Something could touch off a Republican-wave election and Klobuchar get caught in the trough, he explained.
Martin, too, waves away notions of inevitability.
He pointed to the 2010 elections and the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin.
“He no longer serves in the Senate,” said Martin of former Democratic U.S. senator Russ Feingold, once seen as a possible presidential contender, defeated that year.
You never take the people you represent for granted, said Klobuchar.
“I take nothing for granted,” she said, speaking today in Rochester.
Klobuchar, 52, and husband John Bessler have a daughter, Abigail, who is 16 and a high school junior.