WASHINGTON – Even at her own wedding, Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar writes in her new book, she weathered bromides about one day running for president.
In “The Senator Next Door,” an autobiography Klobuchar penned without a ghost writer, she writes about her trajectory from a middle-class Plymouth upbringing to the U.S. Senate, with stops along the way at Yale University and the Hennepin County attorney’s office.
Klobuchar’s autobiography, which hits bookstores next week, is at times unflattering about her own family.
The daughter of a schoolteacher and a newspaperman, she talks about her father (longtime Star Tribune columnist Jim Klobuchar) and his struggle with relationships, alcoholism and recovery, and her mother’s decision to return to the workforce after she found herself single and raising two kids.
“I think … being a kid of an alcoholic makes you first of all hate lying and people not telling the truth, which you see a lot in Washington,” she said. “It makes you think you can fix things; it makes you want to fix things.”
Klobuchar admits at several points in the book that she often did not achieve proper balance in her work and personal lives. Her husband, John Bessler, found out she was running for the U.S. Senate by listening to the news.
Her daughter, Abigail, now in college, once called her the “submarine mom” — as opposed to a helicopter mom — because she lurked beneath the surface and popped up unexpectedly.
“I tried to be honest about the fact that I wasn’t always good at it,” Klobuchar said of balancing family and work.
Klobuchar says she decided to write the book to persuade the public that “normal people should be able to run for office.”
“I wanted to make it a real story,” she said, “that despite all this big money … once they got there [Washington], people were not all evil and you could get things done.”
Klobuchar, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, focuses on consumer issues and working with Republicans.
She admits she is not usually a “rabble-rouser,” and she works across the aisle on issues such as human trafficking and trade issues.
“I have tried to treat people on the other side civilly and look for common ground,” she said.
After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, Klobuchar began her career at the private firm Dorsey & Whitney. Then she moved on to run the Hennepin County attorney’s office.
In the book, Klobuchar said she planned a run for state attorney general, but when Gov. Mark Dayton, then aU.S. senator representing Minnesota, announced he wasn’t going to run again, she decided to go for the open Senate seat.
She describes the difficulty of breaking through the national fundraising scene as a no-name county attorney, and how she spent hours on the phone with donors, even while driving around the state.
Once she got to the Senate, she describes her share of star-struck moments with President George W. Bush and Capitol Hill lions such as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
“We’ve visited St. Louis and [Sen.] Claire McCaskill’s home … Mark Warner’s Virginia farm; Maria Cantwell’s loft; Angus King’s rustic Maine cabin and Michael Bennet’s house in Colorado,” she wrote.
Klobuchar declined to say what her ambitions are beyond the Senate — though politicians often write books when there are plans to do something else.
“Right now, I love doing my job and that’s what I’m doing,” she said. “I love representing Minnesota in the Senate. We know there are plenty of people running … for president.”