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Election 2020

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Officially Enters 2020 Presidential Race

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Klobuchar, 58, hopes her working-class, Midwestern background will help her seize the middle ground in a Democratic primary where many of the candidates who have announced so far have generally appealed to the party’s progressive wing.

As the snow came down and the temperatures were in the teens, Klobuchar announced:

“I stand before you as the granddaughter of an iron ore miner, as the daughter of a teacher and a newspaperman, as the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota, to announce my candidacy for president of the United States.”

Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gained national attention during the contentious confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In one memorable exchange where Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh about his alcohol consumption, she spoke openly of growing up with an alcoholic father after Kavanaugh tried to turn the tables and angrily asked her about her own drinking. 

She voted against Kavanaugh, as well as Justice Neil Gorsuch. And she opposed most of Trump’s Cabinet nominees, including Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Steven Mnuchin, Rick Perry and Ben Carson. But, according to FiveThirtyEight, she votes with Trump 31.5 percent of the time, the highest among the five other Democratic senators officially running in the primary so far. 

Klobuchar is more moderate than some of her primary opponents on a couple key Democratic issues. Unlike Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Kristen Gillbrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, she opposes the elimination of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. And though she says the U.S. needs universal healthcare, she has not endorsed the  Medicare for All plan supported by Harris and Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

One early hurdle for the Minnesota Senator is a recent BuzzFeed News report based on interviews with eight of her former staffer who accused her of running “a workplace controlled by fear, anger, and shame.” The article said the senator “regularly berated” her staff over minor mistakes. 

March 2018 report from Politico found she had the highest rate of staff turnover in the Senate from 2001 to 2016. 

Election 2020

Ex-Astronaut Mark Kelly Makes Democratic Bid For US Senate Seat

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PHOENIX (AP) — Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who became a prominent gun-control advocate after his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in a failed assassination attempt, announced Tuesday he will run to finish John McCain’s last term in the U.S. Senate.

The Democrat will take on Republican Martha McSally in what is expected to be one of the most closely contested Senate races of the 2020 election.

Kelly described himself as an independent-minded centrist who will take a scientist’s data-driven approach to solving problems such as climate change, wage stagnation and health care affordability.

“You see a lot of partisanship in Washington and a lot of polarization, and to some extent we’ve created that,” Kelly told The Associated Press. “It’s going to take people who are more independent to fix it. Arizonans value independence.”

If Kelly is nominated the race would pit the Navy veteran and astronaut against McSally, a trailblazing Air Force pilot, in the contest to replace McCain, a legendary Navy flyer who was famously shot down and held captive in North Vietnam.

McSally is a former Republican congresswoman who was appointed to McCain’s seat after she narrowly lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema last November in the race for outgoing Republican Jeff Flake’s seat. McSally leaned heavily on her record as the first woman to fly a combat mission, but she was hurt by her embrace of President Donald Trump.

The 2020 election will decide who finishes the last two years of McCain’s term. The winner would have to run again for a full six-year term in 2022.

Democrats are eagerly watching the Arizona contest, having already defeated McSally. The party is also gauging whether Arizona could be competitive at the presidential level in 2020, where Trump won in 2016.

Kelly has never held elected office. He flew combat missions during the first Gulf War before becoming an astronaut along with his twin brother, Scott Kelly. He flew four space missions over 10 years and commanded the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2011.

Kelly and Giffords have pushed Congress to enact gun control measures with little success. They shifted their focus to state legislatures in recent years, helping to strengthen background checks and domestic violence protections.

Giffords was severely wounded in a mass shooting on Jan. 8, 2011. The shooting at a Giffords meet-and-greet event in Tucson left six dead and 13 injured.

Giffords played a prominent role in the four-minute video Tuesday launching Kelly’s campaign.

“I thought then that I had the risky job,” Kelly says to Giffords. “Turned out, you were the one that had the risky job.”

Kelly told the AP Giffords, who has been a rising Democratic star before the shooting, will join him frequently during campaign appearances.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally to the vacant Senate seat after his first appointee, former Sen. Jon Kyl, resigned after only a few months in office.

Arizona has been a longstanding Republican stronghold, but a growing Latino population and frustration among women with Trump have helped Democrats make inroads.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego of Phoenix is also considering a Senate run that would likely position him to Kelly’s left politically.

“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m looking seriously at running for the U.S. Senate in 2020, and that hasn’t changed,” Gallego said on Twitter following Kelly’s announcement. “I’ll be making a final decision and announcement soon.”

Former Attorney General Grant Woods, a lifelong Republican who became a Democrat and a fierce critic of Trump, said last week he will not run for the seat.

McCain, a legendary and beloved Arizona politician, died last year from an aggressive form of brain cancer after more than three decades in the Senate.

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Election 2020

Klobuchar dismisses reports she’s a tough boss

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar is dismissing reports that she is difficult to work for, saying she has high expectations for the people who work for her.

Klobuchar was asked Sunday about the reports of high staff turnover and the loss of potential staff for the presidential campaign she announced in Minneapolis.

Klobuchar says “I can be tough” and that “I can push people” and that she has staff who have worked for her for years and gone on to do other things. She says she also has high expectations for the country.

A survey of senators by the website LegiStorm from 2001 to 2016 found that Klobuchar’s office had the highest turnover in the Senate. A recent HuffPost article portrayed her as a demanding manager who lost some potential 2020 campaign staff members because of her reputation.

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Election 2020

HARRIS TAKES ON QUESTIONS ABOUT HER ‘BLACKNESS’

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   (CNN) — Sen. Kamala Harris directly confronted critics Monday who have questioned her black heritage, her record incarcerating minorities as a prosecutor and her decision to marry a white man.

In an interview with The Breakfast Club hosts DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God that aired Monday, the show’s hosts asked the California Democrat to address a series of derogatory memes that have circulated on social media. One of the hosts cited a meme that said Harris is “not African-American” because her parents were immigrants born in India and Jamaica and she spent her high school years in Canada.

“So I was born in Oakland, and raised in the United States except for the years that I was in high school in Montreal, Canada,” Harris responded with a laugh. “And look, this is the same thing they did to Barack (Obama). This is not new to us and so I think that we know what they are trying to do.”

“They are trying to do what has been happening over the last two years, which is powerful voices trying to sow hate and division, and so we need to recognize when we’re being played,” Harris said.

One of the hosts followed up by asking Harris how she responds to people who question “the legitimacy of your blackness.”

“I think they don’t understand who black people are,” Harris replied. “I’m not going to spend my time trying to educate people about who black people are. Because right now, frankly, I’m focused on, for example, an initiative that I have that is called the ‘LIFT Act’ that is about lifting folks out of poverty,” she said, detailing her plan for a $6,000 tax credit for middle class Americans.

“I’m black, and I’m proud of being black,” she said at a later point in the interview. “I was born black. I will die black, and I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because they don’t understand.”

Harris, a former California state attorney general, said she makes no apologies for pursuing violent criminals to keep communities safe, but added that she wished she could have done more to affect change “from the inside.” She also highlighted her support for legalizing marijuana. She said she has smoked — a joint, to be specific, adding with a laugh, “I did inhale.”

“I think it gives a lot of people joy,” she said, “And we need more joy.”

The junior senator from California was also asked about criticism she has faced on social media for marrying a white man.

“Look, I love my husband, and he happened to be the one that I chose to marry, because I love him—and that was that moment in time, and that’s it,” Harris said. “And he loves me,” she added laughing.

The-CNN-Wire

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