Last week, multiple news agencies reported that Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, was being considered as Joe Biden’s running mate.
Klobuchar has had a successful career in both law and politics, but many Democrats and progressives believe that choosing her would represent a missed opportunity to select a woman of color for the role.
For months, Biden has insisted that he will choose a woman to be his running mate if he secures the Democratic nomination, which he has all but clinched now that his former opponents have ended their campaigns.
Whoever Biden chooses would have the potential to make history as the first female vice president (VP) in the history of the United States. In recent elections, the selection of a vice president has often been as much about their experience as their ability to bring out a specific segment of voters.
Amy Klobuchar’s early career
Born in Plymouth, Klobuchar is a native daughter of Minnesota. Her father, Jim Klobuchar, is the son of Slovenian immigrants and spent his career as a well-regarded journalist who once worked for the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune. Amy’s mother, Rose Klobuchar, was the daughter of Swiss immigrants and taught second grade until she was 70. Rose died in 2010.
Following graduation from Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Klobuchar left the state to study political science at Yale. After graduating magna cum laude from Yale in 1982, she returned to the Midwest to complete a law degree at the University of Chicago Law School, which, in 1985, led to a job with the private Minneapolis law firm, Dorsey & Whitney.
Klobuchar later became a partner at Dorsey & Whitney and another Minneapolis-based law firm, Gray Plant Mooty.
During this period of her life, she began her political association with the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), which is affiliated with the national Democratic Party. Klobuchar was said to be contemplating a run for political office even then.
Klobuchar married John Bessler, an attorney, in 1993, and had a daughter, Abigail, in 1995.
Amy Klobuchar’s political career
After her time in private law, Klobuchar was elected as the county attorney for Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis and has the largest population of all the counties in Minnesota. Her father’s public struggles with alcoholism, and in particular his multiple arrests while driving under the influence, inspired Klobuchar to seek stricter penalties for drunk driving.
Klobuchar is considerably popular in her home state. In 2006, following the announcement that one-term Senator Mark Dayton would not run for reelection, Klobuchar ran for office and sailed to an “easy victory” in the words of Minnesota Public Radio. She was the first woman in state history to serve in the US Senate.
Her popularity has held strong. In 2018, she was reelected to the Senate with more than 60% of the vote.
In 2019 and the early months of 2020, Klobuchar parlayed that home-state success into a run for president as the potential Democratic nominee. As a centrist candidate, Klobuchar had a number of notable debate performances alongside Biden, as well as progressive Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Nonetheless, Klobuchar dropped out in March, having failed to gain traction in the primaries.
With reports suggesting that Biden has asked Klobuchar to undergo vetting as a potential running mate, her time in the national spotlight is likely not yet at an end.
Objections to Amy Klobuchar as VP
Appearing via video chat on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday, May 22, Biden was asked directly whether Klobuchar was being vetted as VP. He responded, “No one has been vetted yet by the team” because the process hadn’t started yet. However, Biden said the “very invasive process” would be beginning soon.
Regardless of how seriously Klobuchar is being considered for the position, Politico reports that the possibility of her selection has already received considerable pushback from varied members of the Democratic coalition. Black and Latino activists have warned that not choosing a woman of color for the position could undermine the Democrats’ outreach to those vital voter bases.
Political activist Zerlina Maxwell tweeted on May 21, “Joe Biden needs to pick a black woman as VP. That’s it. That’s the tweet.”
Similarly, progressive supporters of Sanders and Warren have said they are not inspired by the possibility of a VP with a centrist leaning. They warn that Klobuchar won’t appeal to the left wing of the party and will not excite other voters.
Still, Klobuchar’s popularity in Minnesota suggests that she has value in the Midwestern states that Biden would need to win in order to take the White House. Klobuchar on the ticket could help secure Minnesota, a state narrowly won by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
A 2019 Star Tribune poll of head-to-head matchups between President Donald Trump and four Democrats – Biden, Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar – had the Minnesota senator winning by the largest margin of all four nominees.
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