Klobuchar is a worthy candidate, getting no attention

Klobuchar is a worthy candidate, getting no attention
© Greg Nash

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharElection security advocates see strong ally in Harris The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup MORE (D-Minn.) has sterling credentials. She received an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a law degree from the University of Chicago (where one of her classmates was former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump hits FBI Director Wray: 'I wish he was more forthcoming' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance Ron Johnson signals some GOP senators concerned about his Obama-era probes MORE). She served for eight years as the District Attorney for Hennepin County which includes Minneapolis and its suburbs. She is 58 and in her third term in the U.S. Senate.

Her legal background has served her well. She sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which recently heard testimony on the Mueller Report from Attorney General William BarrBill BarrHillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations How would a Biden Justice Department be different? MORE.

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Last week’s Judiciary Committee hearing on the Mueller Report illustrated the challenge facing Klobuchar’s presidential campaign. She aggressively and effectively questioned the attorney general. But the media coverage of the hearing was dominated by one of her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris to host virtual Hollywood campaign event co-chaired by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling Democrats hammer Trump for entertaining false birther theory about Harris Hillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations MORE (D-Calif.) who also serves on the committee. 

Klobuchar is playing Gayle KingGayle KingThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP senators at odds over next stimulus bill Minneapolis police union says members have been 'scapegoated by political leaders' Fox News, CBS morning show hosts return to broadcast studios MORE to Harris’ Oprah WinfreyOprah Gail Winfrey'White privilege' is the biggest white lie of all Oprah Magazine buys 26 billboards demanding Louisville police arrests for Breonna Taylor's death Ted Cruz bashes Oprah for 'lecture' on race: 'What utter, racist BS' MORE. Harris raised more than twice as much money as the Klobuchar did in the first quarter of this year. Harris also has made a dent in national polls which Klobuchar has not been able to do.

Off to the races

To this point, Klobuchar’s candidacy has had little impact on the campaign to win the Democratic presidential nomination. She barely registers in the national polls. But she has raised enough money and has enough standing in the polls to qualify for the first Democratic presidential debate next month. 

A new national survey by the Washington Post and ABC News indicates that former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris to host virtual Hollywood campaign event co-chaired by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling Trump plans to accept Republican nomination from White House lawn US seizes four vessels loaded with Iranian fuel MORE leads the field with 39 percent of the vote only days after announcing that he would run for president. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersChris Wallace: Trump struggling with attacks on 'shape-shifter' Harris Kamala Harris: The outreach Latinos need Biden and Harris seen as more moderate than Trump and Pence: poll MORE (I-Vt.) came in second with 15 percent. Next in line were Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenChris Wallace: Trump struggling with attacks on 'shape-shifter' Harris Markey riffs on JFK quote in new ad touting progressive bona fides Howard Kurtz: Kamala Harris 'getting walk on water coverage' by media after VP pick MORE (D-Mass.) at 8 percent, South Bend, Indi. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup Obamas, Clintons to headline Biden's nominating convention MORE at 7 percent, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke at 6 percent and Kamala Harris at 5 percent. The other candidates including Klobuchar barely register at all.

Both Democratic front runners are men but 2020 could be the Year of the Woman in presidential politics. Politics like nature abhors a vacuum. The two male front runners have soft leads and a woman could easily charge into the vacuum if either of their candidacies falter. 

The conditions for the nomination of a woman are there.

Asset and liabilities

Klobuchar has a numbers problem. She is one of seven senators who are fighting to carry the Democratic presidential banner against Trump. She is one of four female Democratic senators in the race. She even shares her perch on the Senate Judiciary Committee with two other Democratic candidates, Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Booker hits back at Trump tweet, mocks misspelling of name MORE.

The shaky start to Klobuchar’s presidential campaign is an example of the problems female candidates face. Before her official announcement, a story circulated that she had been abusive to staffers. There are 11 current members of Congress in the presidential race — six of whom are men. It wouldn’t be unusual if at least one of those six men had staff problems. But women are held to a stricter standard and Klobuchar took the media hit. People expect men to be tough, but women suffer when they come across anything but maternal.

Klobuchar describes herself as a pragmatic and moderate voice from the heartland of America. This may help her in neighboring Midwestern states like Iowa. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal Gloria Steinem: Selection of Kamala Harris recognizes that 'black women ... are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party' MORE won in Minnesota by the skin of her teeth so Klobuchar has positioned herself as a Democrat who can win purple states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all of which went to Trump in 2016.

But primary voters want some sizzle with their steak. She has focused on bipartisan issues like infrastructure development and opioid abuse. Klobuchar has distanced herself from many of the positions that excite Democratic primary voters. She does not support Medicare for All and calls the Green New Deal “aspirational.” Her approach to a free college education is typical. She said, “if I was a magic genie and could give that to everyone and we could afford it, I would.”

 

If one of the male candidates wins the Democratic presidential nomination, he will be under great pressure to select a female running mate to reflect the power of women in the Democratic Party. If she doesn’t win the nomination, Klobuchar would balance the ticket nicely. She represents a Midwestern swing state that is vital to a Democratic victory. Or perhaps, Democrats will make history with two women on the ticket in 2020.

Her service as a district attorney and as a member of the Judiciary Committee would certainly make her a better attorney general than William Barr, whose claim on history will be the man who sacrificed his legal integrity to act as Trump’s public defender.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.

This is the 14th piece in a series of profiles by Bannon on 2020 Democratic hopefuls. Read his analysis on Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)Mayor Pete ButtigiegSen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourkeformer Govs. Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper, former Vice President Joe BidenSen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former HUD Secretary Julian CastroSen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)