ECM Editorial: Klobuchar proven, has more to offer

It’s hard not to be impressed by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. She’s smart. She’s subtle. She is a careful listener. And almost always, she seems to be right on the mark when it comes to doing what is best for Minnesotans.

We heartily endorse the first-term Democrat in her race against Republican challenger Kurt Bills on Nov. 6.

In 2008 when the economy was reeling and American automakers were announcing plans to close dealerships, many right here in Minnesota, Klobuchar met with manufacturers and local dealers to preserve as many dealerships as possible, but also to ask them to re-evaluate their plans and in some cases extend the period for closure to give dealerships more time to sell inventory. It may seem insignificant now, but it was critical at the time.

Klobuchar played a key role in preserving a Walser dealership in Bloomington. She easily could have sidestepped this issue, but through her involvement she humanized it and forced automakers to truly take a close look at what they were doing.

When Stillwater needed political leadership in the Senate to get funding to replace the antiquated and aging 80-year-old lift bridge, Klobuchar was there to help garner support on both sides of the aisle — something she has done quite well since being elected in 2006. The bridge issue had been anchored in muck for years as proponents and opponents haggled over what should be done, but neither side offered viable solutions. Her bipartisan legislation will result in a larger, safer bridge that will serve the needs of the St. Croix Valley for the next 100 years.

She has supported the effort to reduce an Obamacare-related, $28 billion tax on medical devices, which has been widely viewed by Minnesota medical device companies like Medtronic as critical to their continued success. There are an estimated 400 medical device companies in Minnesota employing some 35,000 people.

She has sponsored legislation to make penalties for stalkers more severe, has worked to make access to information about missing children more available for all investigating agencies, worked tirelessly to provide more help to homeless veterans and has sponsored legislation to simplify international adoptions.

After the earthquake in Haiti, she worked with more than two dozen Minnesota families to get children who were in the process of being adopted to their new homes in Minnesota more quickly. That was significant, as living conditions were rapidly deteriorating in those first few months after the earthquake, leaving many children susceptible to illness and disease.

Klobuchar’s voice on the Senate agriculture committee, whose Senate-passed farm bill ends direct payments to farmers and agribusinesses and saves $23 billion compared with current law, is vital to Minnesota.

Bills, a Rosemount High School economics teacher who is finishing his single term in the Minnesota House of Representatives, brings some intriguing attributes to the race, most notably a keen sense of economics and a laser focus on reducing the national debt. But beyond the national debt, we’ve heard little about what Bills would do in D.C. to represent Minnesota more effectively than Klobuchar.

Bills expresses fondness for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s budget plan, a severely austere vision for the country that garnered little support in the Senate. Bills has a puzzling take on the famous Grover Norquist’s no-new-taxes candidate pledge:  Bills signed it but says he doesn’t feel bound by it.

Klobuchar has her own credentials on the national debt. She was one of 14 senators who insisted on formation of a debt commission before they would vote two years ago to raise the debt ceiling. She advocates a mixture of hard budget choices and new revenue for pruning the unsustainable national debt.

As a senator who has gained the respect of fellow senators on both sides of the aisle, Klobuchar has an opportunity to be an exemplary leader who can make good decisions that will affect our state and nation for years to come.

 This editorial is a product of the ECM Editorial Board.