Klobuchar suspends presidential campaign; endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) delivers remarks about Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh during a mark up hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Sept. 28, 2018.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has suspended her campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is suspending her presidential campaign and preparing to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign event in Dallas, a campaign aide confirmed on Monday.

Klobuchar, the senior senator from Minnesota, outlasted a number of other Democratic hopefuls, including former South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg, who dropped out of the race on Sunday, less than 24 hours before Klobuchar did the same. Buttigieg similarly endorsed Biden.

Klobuchar’s campaign survived two early-state contests, emerging as a surprising third place finisher in New Hampshire, but she didn’t perform well in nominating contests with much more diverse electorates. She struggled with low name recognition compared with many of her fellow candidates, including Biden, who is now trying to shore up support among Democrats who want an alternative to the frontrunner, Vt. Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

Sanders won a broad range of support from Black, Latino, and Asian-American voters in a strong showing in Nevada. Biden, however, won a commanding victory in South Carolina that has revived his campaign ahead of Super Tuesday, which will prove critical in the race to amass delegates.  

Sanders, polls show, is leading in diverse, delegate-rich states like California and Texas, both of which hold primaries Tuesday. 

The end of Klobuchar’s campaign comes less than a day after Black Lives Matter protesters disrupted a Sunday night rally in St. Louis Park, leading to the cancellation of the event. 

She has faced renewed scrutiny in recent weeks of her time as a county prosecutor, which she has used through her career to burnish an image as a tough crime fighter. Klobuchar was elected Hennepin County attorney in 1998 and reelected without opposition in 2002, serving until 2006 when she ran for the Senate. 

The activists had been calling on her to drop out of the race, criticizing her office’s handling of a 2002 murder investigation and trial when she was Hennepin County attorney.

A recently published Associated Press investigation found serious flaws in her prosecution of Myon Burrell, who is serving life in prison. The AP investigation of the prosecution uncovered new evidence and inconsistencies that have raised questions about the guilt of Burrell, who has never confessed. 

Klobuchar has stated that any new evidence in the Burrell case should be immediately reviewed.

Still, Klobuchar was in a competitive race in her home state with Sanders, according to a recent Star Tribune/Minnesota Public Radio News poll. Klobuchar was leading Sanders by only six points with 21% of voters still undecided. 

A defeat in Minnesota could have proven to be potentially embarrassing for the senator who had been pitching herself as the most likely to win key Midwestern states and frequently touted the fact that she has won all of her previous political races.  

Reaction from supporters like U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, who had endorsed her in the race, began pouring in Monday. 

“I am proud of the principled campaign (Sen. Amy Klobuchar) ran,” Phillips tweeted. “Her voice of reason, decency, and possibility is exactly what our country needs right now. She will be an outstanding president some day, and I am grateful for her friendship, service, and tenacity. Onwards!”

Others were more terse in their comments, like Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a top Minnesota Sanders surrogate, who issued a short tweet on Klobuchar’s decision. 

“Thanks for your run,” Ellison wrote. “Congratulations on your participation.”

Sanders, meanwhile, tweeted his congratulations on her run, asking her supporters to back in in the primary.

“I want to congratulate @AmyKlobuchar for running a strong, issues oriented campaign,” Sanders wrote. “I hope her supporters will join us in our fight to defeat Donald Trump in November and win real change.”

Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.