Klobuchar, Smith join Democratic fight to maintain control of the U.S. Senate – and their own clout

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar used the Bill Maher national platform to pitch liberal-leaning viewers for their support of Democratic Senate candidates in November.

Klobuchar isn’t on the ballot like Tina Smith, a fellow Democratic Senator, but they still campaign – for other Democrats.

There’s good reason. Klobuchar, Smith and the Senate would be thrown out of control if Democrats lose control. Their climb up the key committees would stop and they would not be able to move forward with their legislative agendas.

If Minnesota’s Democratic senators become minority after November’s votes are counted, it would affect their ability to raise money and get approval for money for local projects (earmarks).

Klobuchar as well as Smith both served in the minority in the past and know that being in the majority is better.

Smith stated, “Being in majority means that we have a real chance to advance legislative priorities.” “Republicans are obstructionists.”

If Democrats lose control in the Senate, a Republican majority leader will set the agenda. Democrats are more likely to resort to filibuster to derail GOP priorities. Gridlock would not end if Republicans takeover.

It would also mean Klobuchar wouldn’t be the chair of the Senate Rules Committee or a subcommittee on consumer rights. She is currently the No. 2 Democrat on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and her rise to the top of that committee has been remarkable. It would almost be impossible to erase her aspirations to become the No. 2 Democrat.

Smith would instead be the chairman of a banking subcommittee. She could also lose her seat on one the other committees to which she belongs. In the meantime, Republicans would be able to replace certain senior Democratic members depending on how many seats they gain in November.

Larry Jacobs, University of Minnesota political science professor and Senate Democrats spokesperson said that “you move from making deals to hoping that you will be part of the deal.”

A handful of races will decide the fate of the tightly divided Senate. It now has 48 Democrats, two independents, and 50 Republicans. Klobuchar, Smith, and other Democrats have already donated large amounts to these races. This financial support is expected to continue after Labor Day.

Minnesota senators have the luxury of being generous because they continue to raise campaign cash, and don’t need to spend it on defending their seats. Klobuchar had reported that she raised nearly $4 million for her personal campaign fund, while Smith had raised approximately $1.4 million.

Klobuchar had donated $160,000 to Democratic senators from her personal campaign account as of June 30. Klobuchar also donated $132,500 to other candidates from her Follow the North Star Fund. This PAC was established by lawmakers to help them win support from their peers and increase their party’s clout.

Sens. have also sent blast emails to donors asking them to support Democrats in key Senate races. Klobuchar also visited North Carolina last month in support of Cheri Beasley (Democrat), who is running to fill an open seat.

Jacobs stated that Klobuchar, Smith and their party colleagues are “clearing debts” by helping others Democrats. Jacobs suggested that Klobuchar or Smith could also be trying to get “chits,” which are money from Democratic candidates. If they win their races, this could help them in the long-term.

He said, “This is how the game is played.”

Jacobs said that Klobuchar’s popularity with Democrats during the campaign season is strengthening her support base among elected officials in case she runs for the White House again. She did so in 2020. Jacobs stated that Klobuchar could challenge Biden in the next two years but she may be able to run again for the presidency in 2028.

Professor said, “It’s 100% she’ll run again.”


Senate available

The advantage for Democrats is that they have to defend fewer Senate seats during November’s turbulent midterms. Fourteen Democrat-controlled seats and 21 Republican-controlled seats are up for election.

Many political analysts predicted that the GOP would retake control of the U.S. House as well as the U.S. Senate from Democrats a month ago. Although most analysts still believe Republicans will win the House, their chances of capturing the Senate are diminishing due to President Biden’s improved poll numbers, a backlash against the Supreme Court’s Roe-v. Wade decision, and poor performances from some Republican Senate candidates.

Smith is one of the many Democrats who are optimistic that the party will make gains in the Senate this fall.

Smith stated that “adding a few more prochoice Democrats could make all the difference.”

Smith, a former executive at Planned Parenthood, has been intensely focused on the issue of abortion during this political season.

She cited two Senate races which could be used as pickups by abortion-rights Democrats: The contest between Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and Republican Mehmet Oz, and the effort of Democrat Mandela Barnes to unseat Republican Senator Ron Johnson in Wisconsin.

To overcome the Senate’s filibuster, 60 votes would need to be cast and Democratic gains will likely fall short of that. Therefore, Republican votes would be required to approve any Democratic legislation or abortion-rights-related legislation. Smith stated that it is possible.

Minnesota’s Democratic senators also support DFL candidates in the state House, Senate and Senate. The upper body is currently under Republican control.

Smith stated, “If we had an Democratic state Senate that would make all the difference,”

Smith donated money to federal candidates from her campaign war-chest, and she hosted a fundraiser at her home for DFL female candidates. She also hosted a fundraiser for Rep. Angie Craig (D-2 Dist.), who is fighting for reelection.

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