For Washington state, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the best choice to advance to the general election in the crucial effort to unseat President Donald Trump.
She is an effective third-term senator with a strong track record of leading initiatives whether her party was in power or not, working across the aisle when it served her state and the nation. The Minnesotan is no demagogue, titillating voters with political impossibilities like Medicare for All.
Rather, Klobuchar is a pragmatic and authentic progressive who wants to make actual progress on many issues especially important to Washington, such as immigration, climate change and trade.
While Wednesday’s Democratic Presidential Primary debate had all the drama and blood of a Pay-per-view boxing match, the format favors snake oil, fancy footwork and those skilled at throwing verbal punches. The most battered candidate, Michael Bloomberg, probably had it right when he declared Trump the debate’s winner. Regardless, debates do not favor the detail-oriented wonk or nuanced policy position. On that score, Klobuchar deserves a closer look by voters.
Where opponents lavish promises of free! free! free! four-year college degrees, she supports free community college and vocational training, which can lift students into in-demand careers like plumbing and nurse assisting, as well as launch them into four-year college and beyond.
Where Sen. Bernie Sanders promises Medicare For All, glossing over where the money will come from, Klobuchar refuses to upend the current health plans of 149 million Americans. Rather, she would improve on the Affordable Care Act and offers plausible plans for how to pay for her efforts to lower costs and premiums. And she’s the only candidate so far to have the guts to serve up some veggies alongside the sweets — reminding people of the peril of the looming national debt. And, yes, she has a plan.
Washington and Klobuchar’s home state of Minnesota have much in common, including sophisticated international export relationships. She supported the United States-Korea Trade Agreement, which greatly benefited Washington, and recently voted for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren voted for USMCA also. Sanders was among 10 senators who did not.)
A new president could wade back into the economic and diplomatic opportunity missed when Trump canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Revived negotiations could produce higher standards for labor and environmental rules, Klobuchar said in an interview with the editorial board.
Klobuchar has worked for years toward immigration reform. In 2013, she was among a bipartisan group of senators who proposed legislation with a comprehensive approach that included a path to citizenship for immigrant workers without permission to be in the United States.
“It is an economic imperative to see immigrants as part of our economy,” she said. ” … Immigrants don’t diminish America, they are America.”
On climate change, the co-sponsor of the Green New Deal says she would usher the United States back into the Paris climate accord, reversing Trump’s 2017 decision. She says addressing climate change is a top priority, and she also intends to restore other Obama-era environmental programs.
The former county prosecutor has taken heat for her previous support for the ill-conceived War on Drugs, “broken windows” policing and prosecutions of nonviolent offenses from 20 years ago. While widely held at the time, they exacerbated ethnic disproportionality in the criminal justice system. A recent Associated Press investigation revealing new evidence and inconsistencies in her office’s prosecution of then 16-year-old Myon Burrell for the 2002 murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards gave us pause.
However, Klobuchar’s more recent record demonstrates an authentic, if cautious, commitment to righting those injustices. In 2018, she co-sponsored the bipartisan First Step Act reforming federal drug sentencing laws and tackling recidivism. She has called for further reform of the country’s “broken” criminal justice system, specifically citing impacts of racial disparities. As a presidential candidate, her criminal justice reform plan includes reducing the prison population by 20% over the next decade. If elected, she would create a clemency advisory board to speed up the clemency process and a White House adviser outside the Department of Justice to advise on criminal justice reform.
And the daughter of a former newspaperman is an unabashed supporter of the free press, government transparency and the role the U.S. plays as a model for supporting the press around the world. She wants to look at how antitrust laws could help ensure a robust and independent free press providing local news in communities.
Our goal with this endorsement is not to predict the election. Sanders, Warren, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are far ahead of Klobuchar in raising money from Washington donors, according to the Federal Elections Commission. Rather, this endorsement comes after considering the candidates’ experience, records and issue positions — especially how they relate to significant Washington issues.
While Klobuchar might seem like a longshot so early in the process, she is a Democrat for whom moderates of both parties and independents can vote. The prospects of early delegate leader Sanders having such broad appeal are not so clear. Buttigieg’s intelligence and military service make him a compelling candidate, but his experience as mayor of a small Indiana city does not give him the foundation for the presidency. Bloomberg, well, he’s got problems — and not just about what he suggested were merely offensive “jokes.”
Of the others still in the race, Biden also would be a formidable candidate in the general election and good for Washington, but Klobuchar has the edge for her recent achievements.
Vote for Amy Klobuchar.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.