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This is an article that I’ve been thinking about writing for the better portion of the last year. But as summer is winding down and the August recesses are upon us, I felt that now would be a good time to examine this more thoroughly.
The Democratic field in 2016 seems to settle on two names. Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady/Senator/2008 candidate/Secretary of State and Joe Biden, the former Senator and current Vice President of the United States. While Biden is not perceived as an immovable force (he seems to be more a product of name recognition); Clinton does have a perception of being a kingmaker.
Some prognosticators seem to think though that is not exactly the case. Some believe that we had this same conversation in 2005 when Hillary appeared to be the inevitable nominee for the Democratic primary.
But I would argue that’s different now. Only two things brought down Hillary Clinton and that was her vote regarding the invasion of Iraq and a talented, transcendent figure named Barack Obama who capitalized on apathy or even hatred of the Bush administration. Keep in mind that Hillary Clinton didn’t exactly get blown out of the water by then-Sen. Obama either.
Also, we appear to have some revisionist history going on here. Let’s not forget that Obama was considered one of the biggest presidential prospects given his stirring speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and was a pretty well-known name already. His major issue was his relative youth but his talent was on display regularly. He wasn’t just some unknown backbencher that swept onto the national scene.
When we look at 2016, and now we are a year closer; there really isn’t someone who has that same quality. Elizabeth Warren is close but she really appears to be more of a wonk than someone who can spearhead a movement. She is the new progressive rockstar, and for good reason, but I really think we need her in the Senate and I haven’t yet seen her make the moves that would signify interest.
Cory Booker is often touted as someone who has national ambitions and I think its pretty obvious that he possesses it. He’s got charm, charisma, and national popularity but he’s not really a favorite amongst the base (Obama got plenty of help from the netroots over Clinton) and it would be very ambitious of him to go from Mayor to Senator to national candidate.
But besides those two, no one really jumps out if Hillary decides to run (or not). Andrew Cuomo has plenty of money but no real charm (sound familiar?), Martin O’Malley has progressive credentials but has been basically running for President since 2012 and hasn’t really caught on and Mark Warner is frankly anonymous and pretty much a down-the-middle moderate.
So now there has been reaches on who could be a candidate and some speculation has centered on Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Why her? She does appear to be a really generic Senator from a pretty blue state and doesn’t have much to run on other than that.
But nonetheless, Klobuchar has been making all the moves that potential national candidates do. Check out these quick links:
- She wooed delegates from Iowa at the 2012 Democratic National Convention
- She will be the keynote speaker at a North Iowan Democratic fundraiser
- She attended an Iowan dinner that coincided with President Obama’s inauguration
- She fundraised for New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
- She spoke to South Carolina Democrats in September 2012
Now of course that could all be coincidental but keep in mind that Klobuchar isn’t a big name politician such as Clinton, Biden, Warren, Booker or even New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She’s not perceived as a rising star necessarily nor is she very well-known for numerous legislative accomplishments. She seems to be very nice and is likable as she received token opposition in 2012.
But is she someone that progressives should be enthused about even though she came from the state that harbored Humphrey, Mondale, Wellstone and Franken? Could we consider her cut from that same cloth.
Well that answer appears to be no. Klobuchar’s voting record is fairly sound but has she even been a leading voice on health care, immigration, Wall Street reform or the environment?
In fact she seems to be an advocate for “clean-coal” and touted on her official website on how it could create jobs, a friend of the ethanol industry and seems to be on board with the topic of wolf hunting. So if you are someone that cares about the environment, she doesn’t exactly fit the mold of someone you can actively support.
The DailyKos had a diary that sparked up some interest of her running in 2016 and it all appears to be cut from the same cloth. She’s more of a backbencher than an inspirer. She doesn’t really stand out anymore than say, Mark Warner, but he will likely have deeper pockets than her.
But she could be a VP candidate and is worth keeping an eye on especially if Clinton does not run. Is she a winner? I don’t sense it at all. Is she a big-name legislator? Far from it. She does have a good personality though and has been making all the right moves in running for President so keep an eye on her but as of now, that’s all you should do.