Klobuchar makes moderately late push in Nevada

not stressing people out
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar addresses supporters at her campaign office in Las Vegas Saturday. (Photo: April Corbin Girnus).

Amy Klobuchar has been betting her presidential dreams on early caucus states.

Not Nevada. The other ones — Iowa and New Hampshire.

But following a surge in support nationally, the Minnesota senator is finally establishing a presence here in the Silver State.

Since announcing her candidacy in February last year, Klobuchar campaigned heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire, making it a point to visit all 99 of the former’s counties in advance of its early February caucus. She has 15 field offices and 60 staffers there, according to a Des Moines Register article in early December.

Here in Nevada, where the “First in the West” branded caucus is scheduled for Feb. 22, Klobuchar hired her first two campaign staffers in November. Over the weekend her campaign opened its first field office in Nevada — near Rainbow Boulevard and Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas.

The Klobuchar brand is one of Democratic pragmatism — “progressive but practical.” As she puts it: “What good is it right now to have the progressive label if you can’t make progress?” Her promise is relief from extreme partisanship.

When pitching herself as a presidential candidate, she emphasizes the importance of being from the Midwest. She touts her successes in winning in districts President Trump won, including the Minnesota seat once held by former Minnesota Congresswoman and one-time Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann. Twice during her speech, Klobuchar described her interactions on the campaign trail with former Trump voters.

Her overarching message is pretty simple: Democrats need to defeat Trump and she is the candidate most capable of appealing to the folks who voted for him in 2016 but don’t want to again.

“We better not screw this up,” she told the crowd of more than 200 on Sunday. “We better put someone at the top of the ticket that can bring people with her and not stress them out.”

Klobuchar’s pitch doesn’t exactly feed into the hype of the Nevada caucus, which emphasizes the importance of the state’s diverse population over the importance of the electoral college. But the candidate says she believes she has a lot to offer Nevadans.

“I’ve been a leader on immigration reform from the minute I got to the U.S. Senate,”  she told media after a speech at her new field office in Las Vegas on Sunday, “even though I come from a state that is not as diverse as Nevada.”

Klobuchar also boasted her position co-chairing the Senate tourism caucus, as well as what she calls strong opposition to Yucca Mountain.

She added: “My view on health care I think is consistent with a lot of the leadership in your state.” Klobuchar supports a nonprofit public option and wants to improve upon the Affordable Care Act, but has previously called Medicare For All “aspirational.” During her speech to the more than 200 people who showed up to her event on Sunday, she touted work she’s done on lowering prescription drug prices and emphasized steps a president could take (“legally,” she emphasized) to improve health care without the help of a divided Congress.

More broadly, Klobuchar says her voting record is similar to Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen: “Hopefully that will mean the party in Nevada will see that as a benefit.”

“I think, when people look at my record, they’re going to see a progressive but they’re going to see someone that maybe is a little more moderate in tone,” she said. “Someone that brings people with her and also someone that actually gets things done.”

Whether Klobuchar’s message begins to gain traction with Nevadans remains to be seen, but the senator says she’ll be back soon to make her pitch again. Her next visit might happen as soon as the upcoming weekend, pending the status of the impeachment hearings. She also suggested her bright green campaign bus will be rolling into town.

The Nevada caucus is in 47 days.

April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. April currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and three mutts.