You might think that, with neither of them up for re-election this year, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar might take a little break from the campaign trail.
But no: for the past year, Minnesota’s two senators have taken advantage of their open electoral schedules to travel the country in the service of electing fellow Democrats up and down the ticket.
Part of that, of course, entails stumping — and raising money — for their party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, the candidate both Franken and Klobuchar backed from the get-go.
While Klobuchar has been a high-profile surrogate for Clinton on TV and at events, Franken has been among the most active Democrats working to return the Senate to their party’s control — a factor Clinton, if elected, will desperately need to have on her side if she is to win the White House.
Franken’s national tour
Coming off a decisive re-election win in 2014, Franken has wasted little time in getting back on the campaign trail. He’s logged some serious miles in the last 22 months, and has established himself as a top campaigner and fundraiser for Democrats nationally.
For this cycle to date, Franken has done 30 stops benefiting Democrats, taking him to 14 states and the District of Columbia.
Sixteen of those events were to benefit individual U.S. Senate candidates, five were in support of Clinton, and four were joint Clinton-Senate events. (He did five events for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.)
Franken’s travels are reflective of where Democrats see opportunity on the Senate map this year. The party needs a net gain of five seats in order to capture the majority, regardless of who wins the presidency.
Franken, who has stumped for a dozen candidates this cycle, has been dispatched most to support the campaigns of former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, Pennsylvania candidate Katie McGinty, and Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander — three times for each candidate.
Democrats like their chances in those four states, but Franken has also worked for candidates who might be longer shots, like Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick — who is trying to unseat Sen. John McCain — and Deborah Ross, who is running in North Carolina.
And, as we’ve noted earlier this year, Franken — through his Midwest Values PAC — has been exceedingly generous to fellow Democrats. He has distributed over $230,000 to 24 Senate candidates, along with $104,000 to 18 House candidates, including seven Minnesotans.
Franken told MinnPost that “the Senate majority sets the agenda, whether it’s in committee or what comes to the floor, so I’m hoping, I think we have an opportunity to take the majority, so I’ve been going all over.”
He said there are seven races that Democrats have a good chance to win, specifically mentioning Wisconsin and Illinois.
When asked if Trump’s recent tailspin could be the thing that locks up the Senate, Franken said that if Clinton does well, Republican Senate candidates will be going against the tide.
“I’m not a prognosticator,” Franken cautioned. “I’m a senator and an advocate, and I want her to win and give her a majority so she can be an effective president.”
Klobuchar very much with her
Minnesota’s senior senator has not logged as many miles as Franken, but Klobuchar has put in plenty of work for Democrats this cycle, particularly Clinton.
Klobuchar was not made available for an interview, but an aide said she has recently traveled to North Carolina and New Hampshire for Clinton; she also attended the vice presidential debate in Virginia and was in the spin room afterward backing her Senate colleague, Tim Kaine.
Previously in the cycle, Klobuchar has gone to Iowa, New York and Colorado, among other places, in support of Clinton and down-ballot candidates.
Like Franken, Klobuchar has spread campaign cash to candidates through her Follow the North Star PAC. Through the end of August, it had given $327,000 to Democratic causes, including top-tier Senate candidates like Feingold and Hassan, and Minnesota U.S. House candidates like Angie Craig and state Sen. Terri Bonoff.