Klobuchar timeline: A life of law and politics led to presidential aspirations

Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to the crowd at the DFL election night party in St. Paul on Nov. 6, 2018.

Long before Amy Klobuchar stepped onto the national stage, she was a kid from Plymouth. 

After graduating from college and law school, she worked at two Minneapolis law firms before considering politics. And she almost never got here at all, barely defeating her opponent in her first run for office.

Now, of course, Klobuchar is Minnesota's third-term United States senator, and on Sunday, she became one of more than a dozen Democrats interested in taking on President Trump in 2020. 

As she takes her case to the voters, Klobuchar, 58, will highlight her Midwestern upbringing as part of her recipe for success: She can appeal to voters in America's heartland, where Trump found success in 2016. 

Here's a look at Klobuchar's life, from growing up in suburban Minnesota to her presidential campaign launch in Minneapolis.

• 1960 

Growing up in suburban Plymouth

Klobuchar is born to parents Rose Katharine and Jim Klobuchar. She spent her childhood in suburban Plymouth, Minn. Her father was a local columnist and her mother was a elementary school teacher.

• 1980

Interning for then-Vice President Walter Mondale

Klobuchar interns for Vice President Walter Mondale in the last year of the Carter-Mondale administration. Mondale became a key mentor and supporter throughout her political career.

• 1982 

Graduating from Yale University

She graduates from Yale University magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Her senior thesis was a 250-page history of the politics of constructing the Metrodome in Minneapolis that was later published as her first book, “Uncovering the Dome.”

• 1985

Joining a law firm after law school

After Yale, she attends the University of Chicago, graduating with her juris doctorate. She joins the Dorsey & Whitney law firm in private practice four months after graduating from law school. At Dorsey, Klobuchar carves out a niche for herself working on regulatory work in telecommunications law.

• 1993 

Marrying John Bessler, leaving Dorsey & Whitney law firm

After meeting a year earlier at the Coyote Cafe in Minneapolis, Klobuchar marries John Bessler. Klobuchar leaves Dorsey & Whitney for Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, where she continues her work with telecommunications clients.


Considers running for Hennepin County attorney

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman seeks the endorsement for governor, so Klobuchar decides to run for his job as county attorney. But Freeman doesn’t get the party nod for governor and runs instead for another term as county attorney. Klobuchar backs out of the race.

• 1995 

Gives birth to her daughter, Abigail

Klobuchar gives birth to her daughter,  who has a rare condition where she cannot swallow. Klobuchar must leave the hospital 24 hours later, an experience that prompts her to testify before the state Legislature in support of a bill that allows mothers to stay in the hospital for 48 hours. It’s now a federal requirement.

• 1998

Elected Hennepin County attorney

Klobuchar is elected Hennepin County attorney, beating her Republican opponent, Sheryl Ramstad Hvass, by less than 1 percent.

• 2002  

Leads effort to change charge for repeat drunken driving

As county attorney, Klobuchar leads the effort to change state law that made it possible to charge a felony crime for a repeat drunk driving offender.


Re-elected with no opposition

• 2002

She is re-elected to the job of top county attorney with no opposition.

• 2003 

Prosecuting Kirby Puckett for sexual assault

In one of the most high-profile cases during her career, Klobuchar’s office prosecuted Kirby Puckett, a retired Minnesota Twins player and hero in two world championships. He faces an allegation of dragging woman into a restroom and groping her, but the jury acquits Puckett on multiple charges.


Serving as surrogate of John Kerry's campaign

Klobuchar is a surrogate of Sen. John Kerry’s campaign for president. She travels the state to speak to groups and voters on his behalf.

• 2005 

Decides to run for U.S. Senate

Mark Dayton announces he will not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate. Klobuchar considers running for attorney general, but she decides on the Senate instead after encouragement from her mentor, Mondale. She is recognized early as a favorite for the DFL nomination.

• 2006

Becomes first Minnesota woman elected to U.S. Senate

Klobuchar earns the DFL Party’s backing for the Senate and wins the general election, defeating Republican Mark Kennedy and three other candidates. She becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate from Minnesota.

• 2007  

Passing bill to fund rebuilding I-35W bridge

The I-35W bridge collapses in the middle of rush hour traffic on a hot August day. She returns to Minneapolis, saying, “A bridge just shouldn’t fall down.” Two days later, Klobuchar and other members of the state delegation secure passage of a bill that waives a federal funding limit to start rebuilding the bridge.

• 2007

Visits Iraq as Bush's troop surge gets underway 

Klobuchar visits Iraq early in her tenure as senator as President George W. Bush’s troop surge gets underway. Klobuchar opposes the surge, which happens amid what would become one of the Iraq War’s deadliest periods.

• 2008

Endorses Barack Obama in Democratic presidential primary 

Klobuchar endorses her Senate colleague Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary, comparing him to Hubert Humphrey and calling Obama a candidate "with a different voice, bringing a new perspective and inspiring a real excitement from the American people."

• 2008

Gives a high-profile speech at Democratic National Convention

At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Klobuchar gives a high-profile speech to the entire convention.

• 2009 

Serving as the only senator representing Minnesota

Klobuchar serves nearly half of the year as the only senator representing Minnesota while the courts conduct a recount in the Al Franken-Norm Coleman race. Franken eventually joins her in the Senate.

• 2010

Stays in the Senate despite rising profile.

Her national profile rising, Klobuchar reportedly makes a list of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominees. Ultimately, she’s not nominated and says she belongs in the Senate.

• 2012 

Leads measure to create  a new bridge over St. Croix river

A Klobuchar-led measure to allow creation of a new bridge over the St. Croix river near Stillwater, Minn., becomes law. 

• 2012

Secures her second term 

Klobuchar defeats Republican opponent Kurt Bills with more than 65 percent of the vote, • sending her to her second term in the Senate. 

• 2013 

Dismisses presidential ambition on a trip to Iowa

Klobuchar dismisses any presidential ambition as she takes a trip to Iowa.

• 2015

Publishes a memoir, 'The Senator Next Door'

Klobuchar publishes a memoir, “The Senator Next Door,” continuing speculation she’d consider a run for president.

• 2018 

Makes national waves at Kavanaugh hearing

Klobuchar makes national waves over her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh in the Senate Judiciary Committee. She asks him if he’d ever blacked out from drinking so much, to which he fires back, “have you?" He later apologizes for the comment, which earns her national  media attention.

• 2018

As expected, Klobuchar defeats Republican opponent Jim Newberger in the November election with more than 60 percent of the vote. She is re-elected to her third term in the Senate.

• 2019 

Announces intention to seek Democratic Party's president nomination

On Sunday in Boom Island Park in Minneapolis, Klobuchar announces her intention to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, joining a field of a half dozen Democrats who already announced or launched exploratory committees.

Listen to MPR at 100.5 FM in Duluth, 89.3 in the Ely area, 89.7 in the Grand Marais area, 107.3 in the Grand Rapids area, 88.3 in International Falls and 92.5 in the Hibbing-Virginia area.


• 2013