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Klobuchar fundraises in Chicago; big Dem donors to bankroll multiple 2020 rivals

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar waves as she walks in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. | AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is hitting Chicago for fundraisers on Monday and again in April, underscoring the importance of Illinois as a major early donor state.

What is different with the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field is that major donors — including two from Chicago who were mega backers of former President Barack Obama — are willing to bankroll more than one contender in order to see who will surface as the strongest prospect to beat President Donald Trump.

Klobuchar, the Minnesota senator, is flying to Chicago on Sunday from Iowa, where she spent the weekend stumping in the state with the first 2020 presidential vote.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made her White House bid official on Sunday, the latest of more than a dozen Democratic announced presidential hopefuls, with additions to come.

Only a few candidates, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have the ability to raise money online with little need for the fundraising muscle of the top Democratic donors. Sanders is the exception, not the rule as the 2020 field is taking shape.

Some major Democratic donors and fundraisers want to take some time to get to know the candidates and assess who can best defeat Trump.

This type of political investing means two Chicago mega fundraisers for Obama who are among the co-hosts for Klobuchar’s Monday reception — former ambassadors to Canada Bruce Heyman and David Jacobson — are not yet ready to endorse her but will help bankroll her run.

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last year.
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks during a meet and greet with local residents, Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. | AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Charlie Neibergall/AP

The reception, at the home of Vicki and Bruce Heyman, has reached capacity. The ask ranges from $500 to raising or giving $5,600, according to the invitation.

Heyman, in a letter to potential donors shared with the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote, “for the presidential election, we want to ensure that primary candidates with the strongest platform and the ability to beat Trump each have the resources they need to make their case to the American people. This means we will support and help elevate more than one primary candidate.”

Jacobson has spent the past several months meeting with presidential hopefuls and is in the process of narrowing the field.

“The Democrats have a very deep bench,” Jacobson told the Chicago Sun-Times. He is focusing on about six rivals, with Klobuchar among them.

The point of generating this kind of political venture capital is to give the rivals a chance to “stand or fall on their own,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson said he has known Klobuchar since she served as Hennepin County Attorney and has helped her since.

At this point in the 2020 presidential cycle, Jacobson said he will be raising money for Klobuchar but “not to the exclusion of others.”

Democrats need a chance, Jacobson said, to determine “the strongest candidate to run against Trump.”

Jacobson was Obama’s first ambassador to Canada; Heyman was his second.

Heyman told the Sun-Times he and his wife want “Chicagoans to get to know (Klobuchar’s) vision for America, and her ability to bridge differences and drive outcomes. We are very excited about having her to our home and engaging with our community. In fact, we are overwhelmed by the response. There are many here in Chicago that want to make sure Amy has the necessary support to compete vigorously.

“This election, there is more at stake than ever before. We should all be committed to amplifying the voices of qualified candidates like Amy early in the election cycle, so that Americans can carefully assess who is best equipped to beat Trump and be our next president. America has a number of very talented people running for President and potentially more to come. Amy is one of them.”

Earlier on Monday, in an “official” event, Klobuchar teams up with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., to tour the CTA’s revamped 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line station. The event is intended to slam Trump for slicing billions of dollars in his proposed budget for infrastructure spending.

Klobuchar returns to Chicago on April 18 for a fundraiser hosted by, among others, Christie Hefner and Bettylu Saltzman, with the ticket price ranging from $1,000 to raise or give $5,600. Saltzman was among Obama’s earliest political backers.