ANOKA, Minn. (AP) — Democrat Amy Klobuchar won a blowout victory in her first run for the U.S. Senate. Twenty-one months before her next election, she has about $1.6 million in the bank, a minimal campaign operation and no declared opponents.

That suits Minnesota’s 50-year-old senior senator just fine.

In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, Klobuchar said she hopes for a “grace period” before the 2012 campaign season kicks off. Her race will have top statewide billing during a presidential year when the entire Legislature is also on the ballot. She won in 2006 with 58 percent of the vote, beating Republican Mark Kennedy by 20 points.

“If I just spent all my time worrying about who was going to run against me or campaigning, I wouldn’t do my job, and so I am focused on my job,” Klobuchar said, after touring computer labs and a machine shop at Anoka Technical College as she pushes a bipartisan bill aimed at improving the job market.

She added: “There’ll be an opponent, and you know, I’ll just deal with it when it happens.”

National and state Republicans have been attacking Klobuchar for a couple of months over her support for President Barack Obama’s initiatives, including the economic stimulus, the health care overhaul and emissions control legislation. The state GOP started a website,, painting her as a far-left liberal and tying her voting record to Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who won his seat by 312 votes after an eight-month recount and court contest.

Meanwhile, Klobuchar’s office regularly touts bipartisan bills and consumer-friendly issues she works on, ranging from food safety to anti-stalking laws. The former Hennepin County prosecutor has been all over Minnesota in the past month talking up the job bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

So far, there’s no stampede of Minnesota Republicans eager to challenge her.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman ruled out a run earlier this week. Former state Reps. Laura Brod and Marty Seifert have also said they won’t run. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek told Minnesota Public Radio earlier this week he’s not in, either.

State GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said Friday he doesn’t expect Rep. Michele Bachmann to seek Klobuchar’s seat, one of 23 that Democrats will be defending nationwide. Sutton said Bachmann “was very emphatic to me” that she wouldn’t run for Senate next year.

Bachmann spokesman Sergio Gor didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail message.

Still, Sutton said he expects a competitive race. He said GOP gains in the state Legislature and the 8th Congressional District in northeastern Minnesota and a close governor’s race last year show the state has become friendlier to Republicans since Klobuchar’s first race. He predicted that challengers will step forward in the next two to three months.

“Minnesota is not a gimme state for the Democrats,” Sutton said. “And Sen. Klobuchar, by voting with Al Franken with the liberals in the Senate, is going to make herself vulnerable in this race.”

Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers acknowledged that Klobuchar won’t be easy to beat.

“She’s very popular. She’s very nice. But there are also differences between the parties and some votes that have been taken that I think Republicans will disagree with,” said Zellers, R-Maple Grove.

Klobuchar said her campaign ended last year with $1.6 million in the bank after raising and spending $9.5 million in her first race. She declined to speculate on who might step forward to challenge her or comment on potential opponents. She said she pays little heed to partisan attacks.

“You can call me whatever name you want. I’ve tried to not go by labels but I’m going to just keep doing the work for our state,” she said.

St. Olaf College political scientist Dan Hofrenning said Klobuchar will likely face a tougher climate for Democrats next year, compared to 2006, but she is a formidable candidate with a knack for avoiding political extremes.

“She has shown a uniquely strong ability to tack with constituents,” Hofrenning said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (12)
  1. Emeraldprince says:

    I think that the campaign season should be short. Here in Ireland it is only a month long. They desolved the Dail (government) last week and will have elections on Feb 25. Then put campaign limits on spending as well. Drop having PACs as well. That would make it cheaper and not get on our nerves so fast.

  2. Gina Barber says:

    i completely agree. how much of our government debt could be paid with the money that forces their blah blah down our throat instead. 1.6 million to make promises to make promises.

  3. Cache says:

    Warning, Warning, Warning….This is smoke and mirror political hack queen…she has voted for “every” spending bill putting us taxpayers in a deep, deep financial hole…she and fruitloop franken. who swore to uphold the Constitution, just voted for a law that has been declared unconstitutional…and MN voters are liking this ‘thing’…Wake up look at what she does versus the Cheshire grin as she slips it to us?????

  4. Chris says:

    Klobuchar will be challenged and will be beated. She’s stood against many things Americans and Minnesotans want including her pro illegal alien stance in most things and her support for many Obama failures. She’s out of touch with Minnesotans and with Americans and needs to go. Americans are tired of the treasonous actions of the far left which Klobuchar has been sticking with.

    1. Chris B says:

      Treason?? Really?? Please explain how her actions (and the actions fo the “left”) rise to the level of treason. Out of touch? Really? Have you seen her polling numbers? Pro illegal alien stance? Really? You must either be joking or you are sorely misinformed. Try to watch someting besides FOX.

      Amy may be challenged but I guarantee you one thing….she won’t be “beated.”

      1. Bill B. says:

        Although her acts were not treason she did vote for a healtchcare bill that is clearly in violation of the U.S. Constitution. 27 out of 50 States (hopefully Obbama knows there are not 57 states by now) are suing over the Constitutionality of the healthcare bill. If you liberals are not getting the picture that you went to far by now, then you’ll never get it. The American people do not want, need or care for your big government ways. If you want to live in a socialized welfare state then move to Cuba and see how it goes for you. As for the rest of us, we’ll stick with free market capitalism.

  5. Don says:

    Senator Klobuchar has done excellent work for Minnesotans and Americans. Every bill she supported had made life better- She’s got my vote again, and I’ll talk her up to all. I don’t work for her, but she sure has been working for me. Keep it up, Honest Amy.

    1. Cache says:

      You sir and your ilk are the cool aid drinkers and misinformed on Klobuchar. You are the reason we have dipso Dayto and Fruitloop for state representatives. You and your ilk are benefiting (stolen funds) from the stances (Every bill she supported had made life better–For who??? Aye???) these insane lefties take. Klobuchar has an ‘F’ on gun control, Illegals and constitutional issues. She votes for every Obozo Insane Obumbler giveaway which is theft from the workers to give to the corporate and individual welfare Rats. Wake up, Grow up…get out of my pocket!

  6. Bye Bye Vikings says:

    The republicans need to put someone up against her. If we can get rid of another Dem that would be awsome.

  7. IPJOE says:

    You want brains that think about THE PEOPLE. I will vote Independence Party. They don’t take votes from anyone depsite what you all think. I give my vote to the person that I believe will do good for our state as a whole and not what the Democrats or Republicans want or their vision. My vision is not shared with the Dems or Reps. I am not communist or fence sitter either. Those parties are too extreme in my view.

  8. Cache says:

    To add to her black stars this political hack you can thank for $3 plus and rising gas prices because this thing is advocating and supporting the no drilling for our own oil…she must be thrown out on her ear in 2012. She does not care what people think….you bet she doesn’t…she believes and has you all fooled with her act of mis congenial and helpful…I’d vote for a pooch off the street before I’d vote for this cheshire cat!

  9. g says:

    Klobuchar is a great senator who will easily win as long as she wants to stay a Senator. Those who say otherwise will be dissapointed over and over again. Mark my words.

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