Amy Klobuchar, the senator from Minnesota who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, is rumored to be on Joe Biden’s list of potential picks for running mate. However, as The Washington Post reports, Klobuchar’s record on race may be an albatross around the ticket’s neck, particularly among black voters.
Prior to getting elected as the junior senator from The Gopher State, Klobuchar had worked as a prosecutor in Hennepin County. As a prosecutor, she was too harsh on nonwhite defendants, say advocates for the African American community.
Specifically, as Vox reported, Klobuchar’s “tough on crime” stance included harsh sentences for nonviolent offenders, such as graffiti taggers and drug dealers, and advocated for changes to the law that would have given even longer sentences for various crimes.
Such “tough on crime” policies are seen as disproportionately affecting minorities, African Americans in particular. Further, they’re at least partially responsible for an epidemic of mass incarceration, which itself disproportionately affects minorities.
As a prosecutor, she declined to pursue charges in at least two dozen cases of blacks being killed by police.
Beyond her record as a prosecutor, Klobuchar’s critics point to the notion that her Senate career has included little in the way of legislation that would benefit the minority community.
African American-rights activists say that Biden’s campaign is making “a dangerous and reckless choice” in considering Klobuchar for a running mate.
Klobuchar has recently been making attempts to foster closer ties with the black community, largely considered a cornerstone of the Democratic Party’s voting bloc. She’s been giving interviews with black journalists; has introduced a voting rights bill; and has reached out to the NAACP, among other moves.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of the Color of Change, says it may be too little, too late.
“In the next two weeks? I don’t know what that would look like,” Robinson said.
One problem that Klobuchar can’t fix is the fact that she’s not black. And considering Biden’s own complicated history on race, a running mate who isn’t black could spell doom for the campaign, says radio host Charlamagne tha God.
“I think that would be suicide for Joe Biden’s campaign. If he did that, especially at this moment, after the comments that he made.. . . He would be a fool not to put a black woman as his running mate,” the host said.
By comparison, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the first African American elected to his post, is bullish on his Minnesota and Democratic colleague as Biden’s running mate.
“She’d be a very hard-working, tireless running mate,” Ellison said.