Amy Klobuchar performed abysmally among black voters in the Democratic primary. It’s haunting her now as Joe Biden decides on a running mate.
The Minnesota Democrat has the governing experience and ideological profile to mesh well with Biden, and she’s regularly appeared as a surrogate and a fundraiser for him, raking in more than $1.5 million for a single event she headlined. The pair have a warm relationship, trading phone calls when her husband was hospitalized with Covid-19 and they didn’t tangle publicly during primary.
But more than a dozen black and Latino strategists and activists warned in interviews that selecting Klobuchar would not help Biden excite black voters — and might have the opposite effect. Klobuchar would “risk losing the very base the Democrats need to win,” said Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, which promotes women of color in politics. They pointed to her poor performance among non-white voters during the presidential primary, as well as her record as a prosecutor in Minnesota.
It’s not yet clear how much the opposition of activists matters to Biden. He’s made clear that the electoral politics of his pick matter less than choosing someone who can be a governing partner and step into the top job without worry.
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But the vocal contingent of African American and Latino detractors — many of whom said they would prefer Biden to select a black woman as a running mate — is unique to Klobuchar; Elizabeth Warren, another top contender for VP, doesn’t elicit similar antagonism from communities of color.
“It comes from her performance in the primary — her weakness in being able to motivate them,” said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPAC, who supports several potential vice presidential selections. “The engagement and the enthusiasm of black voters is going to be a difference-maker in this election, and the concerns about her in this role stem from the degree to which she resonated or not with those core constituencies.”
Earlier this week, Biden confirmed that “multiple black women [are] being considered” for vice president. Those often named include Sen. Kamala Harris, former Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and Florida Rep. Val Demings. Other Midwestern options, like Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have also been mentioned.