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Klobuchar and Hoeven: Senate’s bipartisan duo

Sens. Hoeven and Klobuchar tour oil facility

Photo courtesy of Elijah Nouvelage/Williston Herald

North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, left, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, center, tour a Statoil drilling rig north of Williston, ND.

In a hyper-partisan election year, it was stunning to watch Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar beaming on Friday as she stood alongside Republican U.S. Sen. John Hoeven in North Dakota oil country.

Hoeven took his neighboring senator on a tour of an oil rig north of Williston, N.D., just a month before Minnesota Republicans are set to endorse an opponent for Klobuchar.

Hoeven served as North Dakota's GOP governor for 10 years before his Senate election in 2010, but he appears happy to cooperate with Klobuchar even though Republican Party leaders are focused on gaining control of the U.S. Senate.

Klobuchar and Hoeven donned matching white hard hats and navy jumpsuits to get an up close look at North Dakota's oil boom and to highlight their Domestic Fuels Act.

"It is great to see the work North Dakota is doing to promote the production of domestic fuels," Klobuchar said in a statement. "Now is the time for us to increase domestic production of energy and focus on the homegrown energy solutions."

She argued that this strategy would give consumers price relief at the gas pump, strengthen the U.S. economy and decrease the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

The bipartisan duo granted access to print and TV reporters during their visit. They each issued news releases about the oil patch tour, and comments from Klobuchar and Hoeven appeared in each other's news releases.

The event was a picture-perfect exercise in bipartisanship. Many Americans have said they want to see more cooperation in Washington with an emphasis on solving problems instead of producing paralysis courtesy of partisan gridlock.

The Klobuchar-Hoeven relationship in the U.S. Senate evokes memories of an era when senators from the Democratic and Republican parties worked together to tackle some of the nation's toughest challenges.

Common background

Klobuchar and Hoeven also have some common backgrounds that make it easy to see why they get along on a personal level. In a chamber in which Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is running for reelection at age 78, Klobuchar and Hoeven are members of the younger Senate cohort. Klobuchar is 51 and Hoeven is 55. They are both Ivy League graduates. Klobuchar is a product of Yale and Hoeven got his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth. Both of their fathers were well-known in their respective states. Jim Klobuchar became a household name as a newspaper columnist. Jack Hoeven built his reputation as a banker, Republican party activist and president of North Dakota's State Board of Higher Education.

If you look at Hoeven's photo gallery on his Senate website, you'll see photos of Klobuchar. There's one from early 2011 when they are touring flood-fighting sites in the Fargo-Moorhead area. There's another photo in which Klobuchar is serving Hoeven her "taconite tator tot hotdish" after the North Dakota State University Bison football team beat the Golden Gophers 37 to 24 at TCF Bank Stadium.

MinnPost's Cyndy Brucato reported earlier this week  that state Rep.

Sen. John Hoeven
hoeven.senate.govSen. John Hoeven

Kurt Bills, a Rosemount High School economics teacher, stands a good chance of becoming Klobuchar's GOP opponent.

It's unlikely that Hoeven will be among the first people to hold a fundraiser for Klobuchar's challenger. That's because he has a working relationship with Klobuchar and he knows that none of the GOP's heavyweights have stepped up to run against Klobuchar. If Bills becomes the Republican candidate, he has almost no name identification outside of his legislative district. Prominent Republicans, such as former Sen. Norm Coleman and two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty, have chosen to stay on the sidelines and not run against Klobuchar.

A former Hennepin County attorney, Klobuchar has a knack for knowing what issues Minnesotans care about and where a majority of them stands on an issue. On the topic of high gas prices, she hasn't uttered Sarah Palin's "Drill, baby, drill" line. But, in essence, that's what she and Hoeven were saying during their oil patch tour in North Dakota. But Klobuchar also has joined with liberals in the Senate, including Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, to sponsor legislation to crack down on oil speculators.

In the pivotal 2012 election, it's possible that voters will send more senators to Washington who are more concerned with results than party labels. No doubt Hoeven will receive criticism from some GOP party activists for closely working with Klobuchar months before she's on the ballot. But Hoeven's bipartisan approach is focused on governing, which is what the average voter expects when casting a ballot.

During a recent broadcast of "Morning Joe," Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown talked about how he can get elected in a Democratic-leaning state such as Massachusetts. He's an independent thinker who is trying to get something accomplished. Brown said, "We need problem solvers, we don't need rock throwers."

Fedor can be reached at

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Comments (8)

When a Repub sits down with a Democrat, we may get somewhere?

Just can't ignore what was and maybe still is,an old North Dakota political 'tradition'. Hopefully that tradition may still exist in this now conservative state...that a Republican often speaks; may think occasionally like a Democrat..and the other way around.

...thought that tradition had died in North Dakota; the state where progressive populism once found its roots; and they, back when, were Republicans?

'Fracking' under the surface of either party brings the concept of Independent voter. Yes indeed, hope it is still surviving. Rarely I suppose but far more productive than hard-core politicians dyed in the same rhetoric we hear more often today..carved in stone mantras that need only a talking robot to represent either party in these times?

Now if we can just get their attention on renewable energy in MN

It is great to highlight bi-partisanship. Kudos to both Senators for a refreshing review of what working together for a common cause looks like. Now, could we get Senator Hoeven to come to a wind farm in Minnesota and help focus attention on the forms of energy Minnesota produces? How about getting the utilities in North Dakota to drop their lawsuit against Minnesota because our clean energy laws prevent them from sending us as much coal-fired electricity unless they do something to offset the carbon emissions? THAT would be the most amazing show of bipartisanship in recent memory. A Republican Senator from the third most productive oil producing state in the country indicating he understands and support ALL forms of energy that help America become energy independent - and improve air and water quality too. Would really love to see that kind of governance again. In the meantime, this is a good start!

The industrial wind scam

All we need in Minnesota is a nice $2 billion wind farm like Cape Wind off the Mass coast. In the summer when demand is high, that boondoggle will produce less than one tenth the output of the Prairie Island nuclear plant, and at times when the grid doesn't know it's coming. Then there is the $2 billion Ivanpah solar project in Nevada with its hundreds of thousands of big mirrors that need regular power washing in the desert, with production maybe one fourth of the time.
There are reasons that wind and solar combined produce a little over one quad of the 100 quads the U.S. consumes in a year. And that no fossil fuel power plant on earth has been replaced by wind or solar.

Wind scam

I'm sorry, I am trying to see evidence of a "boondoggle" in your two examples, but just can't find it. A quick literature search of Cape Wind shows the problem to be people who don't want their view ruined (NIMBY), not power production. How is that a "boondoggle"? and as for the Nevada example, again, no evidence other than you "power washing" comment. If you are going make an argument, how about a little evidence, not innuendo?

Women's Issues

Although MinnPost says Senator Klobuchar " has a knack for knowing what issues Minnesotans care about and where a majority of them stands on an issue." this certainly is not true regarding women's issues. I and other women have emailed Sen. Klobuchar asking her to take a leadership role on women's issues similar to Senator Boxer's. We receive only the auto reply clarification, no embellishment. On the other hand, Sen. Franken has sent a detailed response citing his support and leadership on the issue. With the current Republican attack on contraception and little support for the Violence Against Women endeavor, is it too much to ask that the highest female, elected officer in Mn give more than lip service and her vote to this effort?

Do you think Amy is in favor of violence against women?

or do you think that it's more likely that, like republicans, she knows it's illegal already.

Amy K?

I am still wondering what Amy K has accomplished in the Senate?

Lowering the deficit? Lowering the debt? Pay-go?

Please name one campaign promise she has kept?

It's the color of the suit or the content-of-charactar?

Second Thoughts: Democrat and Republican talking and wearing blue, not orange jumpsuits. That is in itself a fine picture.

But I assume they are discussing a new pipeline through Northern Minnesota? More pipeline development for Clearbrook MN...and who knows where or what else? Up near Red Lake Reservation? It's a "black gold rush" and everybody wants a bit of the big bucks?

Think mineral rights? Sorry, all sold out in N.D...soon too, or already in big Minn?

Read a couple of articles before surging too far ahead Klobuchar.

Fracking the land does weird things to water; rivers, lakes streams... and destroys the land and the culture around such developments.

BIg,big profit for some...and always, for Halliburton and others...but?

Check out:
"North Dakota's black gold rush" video, transcript over at Al Jazeera,

"The Other Bakken Boom; America's biggest oil rush brings tribal conflict",
High Country News magazine.

Explore, exploit; that's the name of the game? And there comes power and greed puffing in from behind all jump suits?