A True Minnesota Original

The Senator Next Door by Amy Klobuchar (2016. University of Minnesota. ISBN 978-1-5179-0227-8)

Confession time. I supported Senator Klobuchar when she was a candidate for the presidency in 2020. I cast my primary vote in support of her by mail only to have her announce her withdrawal ahead of the primary. So it goes. Any way, my daughter-in-law gave me this book a Christmas ago and it’s been sitting in my “to read” pile for over a year. I finally got to it. Here goes.

The first half of the book, chronicling Amy’s childhood, schooling, family woes, law school education, courtship, marriage, birthing of her only child, and her private legal career is very well written. Often, the senator lets her hair down and even cusses a bit, which, given her father’s Iron Range roots and lengthy career in the newspaper business, makes abundant sense. I was especially taken by her description of working at Dorsey, a law firm I spent two years at (working full-time days as a litigation legal assistant while attending night law school), and her appreciation for our mutual mentors (and later, Dorsey lawyers) Fritz Mondale and Warren Spannus (former MN AG). Both men are exemplars of what was once the pride and joy of public service: dedication to the people who voted you into office, their concerns, and the greater good. There’s a lot of those two men in the way the author ran for, won, and managed the Hennepin County Attorney’s position: her springboard into politics. 

Klobuchar’s discussions regarding the justice system, as seen by the chief prosecutor of the largest Minnesota county (in population), the cases that came before her, the decisions she made, including the decision to prosecute Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Roland Amundson (who taught ethics, of all things, to my Baby Judge class in 1999) and seek prison time for the judge’s financial thievery (from a disabled person he was supposed to be protecting) was riveting. Those passages displayed her ability to lead her prosecutorial team “without favor” (her words). Her run for the senate, the parades, the decisions about campaigning, and the fervor of seeking one of the most powerful offices in the land, is also enlightening and educational without being dull or preachy.

The only failing in the book is that it came out four years too early. What do I mean? The later portion of the book, where the senator details the bipartisan bills she worked on and passed with the assistance of her Republican mentor, John McCain, while recognizing DC gridlock and a trend to making law only when pushed to do by crisis, still rings with optimism, a “we’re all in this together” cheeriness that, sadly, disappeared with the 2016 presidential election. I wish she’d waited a bit longer to discuss and digest what the Orange Prankster means to our nation and its future. She couldn’t have known and yet, reading her optimistic end chapters, her belief that there will be many, future opportunities for the two sides of the aisle to come together and do great things had the opposite effect on me as I closed the book. She intended positivity concerning our collective future; a commodity I believe impossible in a political world that includes Faux News, the Orange Imposter, Little Kevie, and the Turtle Man. Yes, there are some good people in politics on a national level. Senator Klobuchar is one of them. But other than a handful of old-style, moderate Republicans (Romney and Collins come to mind), the other side of the aisle is full of lunatics and crazies and those who seek power, not answers to national problems. Not her fault. But the ending to her story has yet to be written.


4 stars out of 5


About Mark

I'm a reformed lawyer and author.
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