Tina Smith can’t compare to Amy Klobuchar


Bella Beck

Karen Larionova looks smug in front of an American flag.

The midterm elections are taking place this November, and that includes Minnesota’s two U.S. Senate positions. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has held her seat for two consecutive terms and will likely be reelected, but the other seat is down to incumbent Democrat Tina Smith and Republican Karin Housley.

Senator Al Franken resigned from his position in January after sexual assault allegations, and his seat was given to Smith by Governor Mark Dayton. Smith was Dayton’s chief of staff but is now seeking to be elected to a Senate position for the first time.

Smith’s lead over Housley has tightened. According to Avery Anapol of the Hill, Smith had a 7-point lead a month ago, and it’s dropped to a 6-point lead. The contrast between Smith and Klobuchar doesn’t shock me. Klobuchar is running for her third term with a 23-point lead, and Minnesotans generally like her.

Smith’s problem is that she just doesn’t have the charisma or clean record to be as popular as Klobuchar.

Smith is plagued by her support to repeal the medical-device tax, as put by the StarTribune editorial board. Her opinions are even further muddied by her husband’s stock holdings in the same medical-device firms.

Her absence at the Oct. 21 debate also had Democrats shivering in discomfort. Smith claimed that there was a scheduling conflict with the debate, but the unavailability was obviously misconstrued by the public.

The last suspicious bit of Smith’s past is her vote for the government shutdown in January of this year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a compromise on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was not a guaranteed compromise, if they ended the shutdown. Smith voted to end the shutdown, making her a sellout to people who are pro-immigrant.

Although Smith had no outstanding scandals during her career, the rest of her career will never be as iconic and famous as Klobuchar’s. Smith just isn’t as well known, liked or important to Minnesota’s political culture.

I bet Smith will win, even if the victory is narrow, but Klobuchar will continue to have the special place in Minnesotans’ hearts. I wish good luck to Smith.