Obstacles Amy Klobuchar Had To Overcome To Get Where She Is

United States senator and former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has faced many challenges throughout her lifetime, all of which have added to her resolve and continue to inform her work as a politician. Klobuchar's experience with grit began when she was young. Her father, while a successful sports writer, was also an alcoholic (via Biography). When her parents divorced, Klobuchar was 15, and for years — while her father continued to abuse alcohol — their relationship remained strained.

Despite the turmoil of her home life, Klobuchar was a stellar student. She graduated valedictorian from her public high school and attended Yale University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Later she attended the University of Chicago, where she earned her law degree in 1985 (via ABC News). As a newly minted attorney, Klobuchar worked in corporate law and eventually became a partner in two firms in Minneapolis. With all this professional success in place, Klobuchar did not expect to run into an obstacle that would change the trajectory of her life.

Amy Klobuchar broke barriers for women

In 1995, Amy Klobuchar's only daughter, Abigail Bessler, was born with swallowing issues (via Heavy). According to Klobuchar's website, although the baby remained in intensive care, Klobuchar's insurance did not cover another night's stay for the new mom. She was so irate that she lobbied the Minnesota legislature to extend 24-hour admission policies for newborns and their mothers. Her advocacy made the 48-hour admission policy law in Minnesota, and eventually, the law was enacted nationwide (via Biography).

Around this time, Klobuchar acquired a taste for politics. In 1998, she won her bid for county attorney and served as the head of Minnesota's biggest prosecuting office, focusing on violent and white-collar crime for eight years. Then in 2006, she shattered glass ceilings by becoming the first female senator to be elected from the state of Minnesota. She was re-elected for a second term in 2012 and began serving her third in 2018.

Amy Klobuchar reached across the aisle to pass legislation

According to ProPublica, the bipartisan divide that split U.S. Congress after President Barack Obama's election interfered with its very function — to pass legislation. Since 2009, Congressional gridlock has caused fewer and fewer bills to be enacted (via Pew Research). Having served in the Senate since 2007 (via Biography), Amy Klobuchar has experienced all of the recent sessions of low legislative productivity. And despite this dreary data, she alone has risen above the partisan rhetoric and worked alongside Republicans to sponsor or co-sponsor 27 bills that became laws — more than any other senator (via Minneapolis Post).

Unfortunately, Klobuchar's greatest ability as a governing official was her greatest liability as a candidate. When she ran in the Democratic primaries in 2020, her centrist sensibilities didn't appeal to the party as a whole. Despite the fact that right-leaning Democrats hardly ever succeed on a national level, Klobuchar continued her campaign while still seeking common ground with Republicans (via NPR).

When Amy Klobuchar ran for president, almost no one knew who she was

In her home state, Amy Klobuchar is a political rock star, with the Minneapolis Post declaring her "Minnesota's most popular politician." In 1998, when she first ran for office as elected attorney of Hennepin County, Klobuchar faced a tight election, but in 2002, no opponent ran against her. Moving to the Senate, she handily secured her first seat in 2006. Klobuchar's winning streak lasted through 2012 when she won a hefty 60% of voters' support (via Minnesota Post). But when she ran for president in 2018, things changed.

Klobuchar's understated demeanor — classic Minnesotan — didn't play well outside of the midwest, and political columnists surmised she lacked the skills and finesse necessary to reach a national audience. The polling data about her national popularity confirmed as much, wavering under 2% at the beginning of 2019 (via Minnesota Post). Her geography worked further against her as coastal candidates in bigger media markets got more screen time — a difficulty faced by previous politicians from so-called "fly-over states." Still, she persevered until March 2, 2020, when she dropped out of the race (via NBC News).

Amy Klobuchar survived cancer during the pandemic

After disbanding her presidential campaign, Amy Klobuchar returned to her work in the Senate where she chairs the Senate Democratic Steering and Rules Committees on top of her duties serving on a judiciary subpanel (via NBC News). In September 2021, she announced in a Medium post that after a routine mammogram — which she admitted she'd delayed because of the pandemic — at the Mayo Clinic in February of the same year, she was diagnosed with stage 1A breast cancer. Klobuchar underwent surgery to remove the lump in her right breast and finished her radiation treatments in May.

Klobuchar's health crisis could have come at a less advantageous time. She spent her days in the Senate attending hearings about President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief bill (American Rescue Plan) and chairing the bipartisan January 6 investigation all while undergoing treatment. Her father died after a protracted decline due to Alzheimer's, and just two days later Klobuchar was back receiving radiation treatments. That same spring, her husband John Bessler was hospitalized with COVID-19. Thankfully, he recovered, as did Klobuchar. By August, her providers concluded the cancer treatment had worked.

Klobuchar's current Senate term ends in 2025, but the political buzz has it that she's on the shortlist to run in 2024 if Biden doesn't run for a second term (via CBS News). Whatever the case, this won't be the last we'll hear from this resilient woman.