U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar clinches DFL endorsement in reelection bid

Published 2:02 pm Sunday, June 2, 2024

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By Dana Ferguson, Minnesota Public Radio News

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar won the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement Friday evening after running unopposed for the party’s nod.

The formal seal of approval from the party activists came after Minnesota Association of Professional Employees business agent Dan Engelhart tried to launch a bid from the floor but came up short.

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The state’s senior senator is seeking a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. That would be a first for a Minnesota senator. With the presidential contest, congressional races around the state and control of the state House of Representatives also on the ballot, Democrats said they hoped that Klobuchar’s presence on the ticket could boost other Democrats’ chances.

Klobuchar told the convention that she worked across the political aisle in Washington and hoped to keep finding connections despite divides.

“We’ve got candidates and leaders in this country who want to tear things down rather than build them up, people who want to attack others rather than work together, people who want to divide us and tear us apart rather than find common ground for change,” Klobuchar told a crowd of DFL activists at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. “That is not who we are. That is not who I am.”

“I hold on tight to the bedrock principle that my job is to move our state and our nation forward to get things done, that make a difference in people’s lives,” she continued.

Klobuchar said that if reelected, she would work to codify abortion rights in federal law, rewrite voting laws, block tax benefits for top earners and corporations, take steps to hold big companies accountable and attempt to pass a law overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

She also addressed the war in the Middle East briefly, saying the conflict should spur people to come together around a solution.

“Today, I speak not just to those in this room, but to everyone who cares about the future of our country, including those who are disillusioned right now, those who want to see peace in the Middle East,” she said. “I support a ceasefire, return of the hostages, and, ultimately, a two-state solution. I am with you.”

While Klobuchar’s comments were met with loud cheers from the crowd, she also drew a couple boos from delegates who wanted her to address the conflict between Israel and Palestine in greater depth.

A trio of Minnesota mayors stood up to support Klobuchar’s endorsement and credited the senator with sending significant aid to their communities.

“It’s not that she’s a champion for mayors. It’s that she’s a champion for local community,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said. “She’s a champion for our neighborhood, a champion for our local fire station, a champion for our local parks, the champion to make sure our breakers and streets work really well in our community. She’s a champion for all of us.”

Delegate Bonnie Peterson, of Two Harbors, said she hoped that Klobuchar could boost support for other DFL candidates up and down the ticket. Historically, Klobuchar has had that effect for fellow Democrats running on the ticket with her.

Peterson said she appreciated Klobuchar’s efforts to reduce the roll of big money in politics and safeguard the right to have an abortion.

“It’s very upsetting to have politicians to dictate to me what I can do with my body or my daughter’s body or my granddaughter’s body. So that’s very important issue for me,” Peterson said.

Engelhart, the delegate who also sought the party’s endorsement for U.S. Senate, said he decided to run for the office because he was frustrated that Klobuchar hadn’t responded to constituents’ concerns about the war in the Middle East. He and others voiced frustrations Friday night about the move to push up the endorsement vote by a day.

“Amy Klobuchar, our senior senator, does not want to have a conversation about an ongoing conflict what will ultimately be defined as a genocide,” Engelhart said. “She refuses to talk to her constituents about this issue and wants it to, brush it away and forget it ever happened and move on. And that is not what’s going to happen.”

He said that dozens of delegates who planned to drive up Saturday morning for the vote would be unable to weigh in. About two hundred rallied outside the convention center on Saturday afternoon to urge delegates to adopt party policies that call on the state to divest investments in Israel and call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Klobuchar will face DFLers Steve Carlson, Ahmad Hassan, George Kalberer and Ole Savior in the August primary.

Podcaster and former professional basketball player Royce White secured the Republican Party’s endorsement at its state convention earlier this month. But earlier this week, businessman Joe Fraser said he would challenge White for the GOP nomination.

Fraser released a statement on X that a fourth term for Klobuchar “wouldn’t be good for Minnesota.”

“I am the only candidate in this race committed to defeating Klobuchar and getting our state back on track,” he wrote.

Four other Republicans have also filed to run for the office: Raymond Peterson, Loner Blue, Patrick D. Munro and Christopher Seymore Jr.