WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has thrown her hat in the ring for the Democratic presidential nomination, and if she is successful, she has a chance at ending a decades-old losing streak of Minnesotans with presidential ambitions.
Quite a few notable Minnesotans have sought the nation's highest office throughout American history, yet none of them have been successful in their bids for the White House. Walter Mondale, who was vice president under Jimmy Carter, ran against President Ronald Reagan in 1984, only to lose in one of the biggest landslides in history. Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the nomination in 1968, only to lose to President Richard Nixon. Sen. Eugene McCarthy sought the presidency a remarkable five times, and lost every time.
It's a bleak track record, but Klobuchar could be in a unique position to change that, according to Dr. Jeremy Mayer, a political science professor with the Schar School of Public Policy and Government at George Mason University.
"In a field this big, everyone is going to be looking for their lane, and there's not a lot of people in her lane right now," said Mayer. "Because her lane is Midwest, her lane is not quite as progressive."
Klobuchar has favored progressive causes, but she is ranked significantly less progressive compared to others in the race. It's somewhat ironic, considering Minnesota Democrats have historically served as vanguards for left-wing causes. But in a field already packed with progressive candidates, it could be what differentiates her, according to Mayer.
But it's going to be an uphill battle for the Minnesota senator from the start. Recent polls show Klobuchar near the bottom of the pack, with former Vice President Joe Biden well ahead of all contenders, despite the fact he has not declared. As many as 20 candidates are expected to join the race for the Democratic nomination, but Mayer thinks Klobuchar's no-nonsense attitude and Midwestern charm could play in Klobuchar's favor in a general election.
"Minnesota nice, Midwestern nice, is a nice contrast for the Democrats with President Trump," Mayer said. "I think Klobuchar has that Midwestern appeal that will bring back the voters that Hillary (Clinton) failed to get by such a small margin in 2016."