Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar uses an experience she had visiting a company called Insect Inferno to drive home the point that politicians must be willing to go where it is uncomfortable—not avoid localities where they lack a natural constituency. The business is housed in a truck that uses heat to kill bedbugs. In a May 2017 address to the Polk County Iowa Democrats Spring Dinner, she recalled visiting the business, and mentioned it again in a recent interview with The New Yorker‘s Susan Glasser. Democrats “have to show up where we are uncomfortable, even when they turn up the heat,” she remarked. As Democrats ponder and declare their interest in the 2020 presidential race, she is emerging as an intriguing possibility. And it is certain that the path to victory will go through Trump Country.
Klobuchar distinguished herself during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation spectacle by remaining calm and courteous despite a verbal attack from Kavanaugh. While it is, indeed, very early to speculate about a possible Democratic ticket, my experience campaigning for Beto O’Rourke in Texas has led me to ponder the possibility of a Klobuchar-O’Rourke ticket.
At 58, Klobuchar is an ideal big sister for the 46-year-old Beto. Further, Klobuchar’s unflappable, calm demeanor contrasts nicely with the high-energy Beto, who, after all, was, in his (even) younger days, a punk rocker. The broad appeal of a Klobuchar-O’Rourke ticket is obvious–it is geographically attractive by covering the mid-western state of Minnesota and the special southern state of Texas, which together have 48 electoral votes, and further checks off the boxes for women and millennials. Both are extraordinarily likable—and disarming—and popular in their home states. Klobuchar won in conservative rural areas, not just suburban and urban areas, drawing more than 64% of the vote, and Beto, despite losing, galvanized a new generation of Texas voters with his energy and youthful enthusiasm. Further, while progressive on a range of issues, neither is so far to the left that they would scare off centrist voters.
In contrast, it is hard to imagine a Biden-Beto ticket having anywhere near the appeal. There is a huge age gap, and Biden is not a new, fresh face. Despite his appeal to blue collar voters, he does not intrigue. While the Platonic ideal of a ticket will never exist in the real-world nitty gritty of political life, it is hard to imagine a more dynamic duo that covers such a broad base of critical supporters than Klobuchar and O’Rourke. Neither have affirmatively declared their intention to run–at this point both are just floating the possibility. Stay tuned.