Amy Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota, is running as a moderate, a centrist, a “nice” candidate who can find common ground and bring us together to meet in the middle.
Background. Klobachar is a white woman from Minnesota, 58 years old, and married with a 23 year old daughter. She has been a prosecutor and an attorney in private practice, and was the first female senator elected in Minnesota.
Positions. Klobuchar’s views correspond to her identity as a liberal centrist. She supports the right to abortion and LGBTQ rights, and she was critical of the war in Iraq. Klobuchar is generally in favor of gun control, a higher minimum wage, and increasing taxes on the rich. She opposes the death penalty and gerrymandering.
Klobuchar is slightly to the right of some othet camdidates. She considers Medicare for all to be an unattainable “aspiration” (although every other western industrialized country manages somehow to achieve this), but supports expanded access to health care. She does not support the Green New Deal, but she would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Klobuchar wants to reduce student debt but does not support free higher education.
Klobuchar’s views on current issues are traditional liberal positions. The perception of her as a moderate or centrist arises from the fact that other candidates (Sanders, Harris, and Warren) have moved the Democratic party to the left.
Here is a useful summary of Klobuchar’s stances on a number of issues. Management concludes that Klobuchar’s positions are acceptable, if cautious. The Atlantic has an interesting article about her identity as a Heartland Midwesterner.
The latest polls show 2% of those surveyed are presently planning to vote for her.
Mean Boss? There have been reports that Klobuchar is a Bad Boss. If true, this is a significant shortcoming, both because it indicates emotional immaturity and also because the ability to play well wth others is central to an effective presidency. The only data that supports these rumors is the fact that Klobuchar has the highest staff turnover of any senator.
A Google search for “is Klobuchar a mean boss” returns numerous articles in reputable publications describing her tendency to be demeaning, angry, and even abusive towards her staff, who are described as working in a state of panic and anxiety. All of these reports are anonymous, so there is no way to verify them; moreover, other employee have publicly supported Klobuchar.
This is the best article I’ve found on the subject. Management concludes that Klobuchar’s alleged nasty treatment of her staff is concerning, but not necessarily a deal breaker.
Electability. The biggest question about Klobuchar is whether there is an opening for her to succeed. Why would a voter prefer her over any of the others? What does she offer that is unique?
It seems possible that many people who might otherwise vote for Klobuchar would instead choose one of the others – maybe Biden (another centrist, but a former vice president with a good reputation), Harris (flashier, more progressive positions, and a woman of color), Sanders (long record of progressive values, bolder proposals), Pete Buttegieg (another competent, workmanlike Midwesterner gay, which makes him seem edgier somehow), or one of the other 4 or 5 competitive candidates. It is just not clear where her niche is.
The Democrats have lost in the past when they ran competent compromise candidates, even those who might have been very good presidents. Hi there Kerry, Dukakis, McGovern, Humphrey, and even Clinton.
Preliminary Determination. Klobuchar has been a competent, effective senator, and her positions are likely compatible with those of many moderate Democrats. Management will not discard her application.
The problem for Klobuchar is that the centrist label also fits Biden, O’Rourke, Gillibrand, and Buttigieg, among others. Management has decided to set aside her application for the present. However, if one or more of the other middle-of-the-road applicants withdraws their application, or if new developments improve Klobuchar’s standing in the polls, we will call Klobuchar in for a second interview.
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