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On Brink of 2020 Decision, Klobuchar Gets Bad Press

HuffPost reports that former staffers accuse senator of mistreating employees
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2019 10:24 AM CST

(Newser) – Sen. Amy Klobuchar has a big event scheduled for Sunday in Minnesota that might just be the formal launch of a 2020 campaign for president. "Come to Boom Island," she told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC this week, per the AP. "Then you'll find out my decision." A possible Klobuchar candidacy has been generating buzz, much of it positive, but now HuffPost is out with a story generating buzz of the negative variety. The gist is that Klobuchar is a mean boss who's having trouble finding someone to lead her 2020 campaign as a result. The story says three people have withdrawn from consideration. Details:

  • The allegations: Some anonymous former staffers tell HuffPost that Klobuchar is "habitually demeaning and prone to bursts of cruelty." They describe demoralizing emails—cc'd to a large group—angry outbursts, and demands to perform personal errands such as picking up dry cleaning.
  • The counterpoint: The same story includes quotes from other former staffers disputing that. Yes, she's a demanding boss, they say, but so what? One former male staffer suggests a sexist stereotype is at play: Lots of male senators are tough, too, but you don't hear the same kind of complaints.
  • The stat: Whichever side is right, one stat is notable: Klobuchar has the third highest rate of staff turnover among senators, according to HuffPost. From 2001 to 2016, she had the highest.

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  • Grain of salt: That's what Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg advises to take with the HuffPost story. The inability to manage staff is "certainly a legitimate factor to consider when choosing a candidate," and he wouldn't be surprised if the allegations have some truth to them. But he, too, wonders about gender stereotypes. "Are a handful of episodes more likely to generate a 'bad boss' reputation for a woman than for a man?"
  • See what's next: So will this damage Klobuchar? It probably depends on what follows, writes John Sexton at Hot Air. Unflattering quotes in a story are one thing, but "it would be something else if one of the staffers came forward and blasted her on MSNBC or Fox News."
  • Looks like a sure thing: The 58-year-old Klobuchar is "almost certainly" running, per a post by Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair. The piece, written before the HuffPost article, sees a different potential problem: "While she's been generally liberal throughout her tenure, she's likely to be seen as a more moderate Democratic option, which could be a drawback in the current political clime."
  • Impressed: At the Washington Post, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin runs through a basic political bio of Klobuchar and comes away impressed. "If one thinks that the country is ready for a sober, calm, and self-contained figure, someone in control of her emotions and in command of her facts, Klobuchar might be the right candidate," she writes. Her biggest threat, adds Rubin, appears to be a Joe Biden candidacy.
(Read more Amy Klobuchar stories.)

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