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Eric Ferguson in a History sweatshirt

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This is the place for campaign news and announcements, and whatever seems worth posting.

Conservative protesters and the marshmallow children

Does anyone else look at the conservative protests of shelter-in-place orders and think of the studies of children with marshmallows?

Those are the studies that offer children one marshmallow now, or two if they can wait until the adult tester comes back. The hypothesis was that children’s ability to wait to get two marshmallows later tested their ability to delay gratification, and this would predict their ability to do so in adulthood. Someone had the insight to realize children might have something in their life experience telling them adults were untrustworthy and they should grab what they can now, and tested that by having the tester lie to the children before the marshmallow test, like promising crayons and not coming through. Turns out the children learned not to trust the adult, and took the immediate marshmallow under the reasonable assumption the adult who lied earlier might be lying now about the second marshmallow.

Now think about the conservative base, who have spent their whole lives being told experts lie, the media lies, liberals lie, science lies, and only sources inside the conservative bubble tell the truth. I’m thinking that’s how we get this:

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Next one candidate virtual forum

The next virtual forum on YouTube will be Wednesday April 22nd at 7PM. Click the link to join the chat at 7, or click it later to see the recording.

You can also see the prior videos on the YouTube channel. There’s some good stuff there, even if it’s just me saying that, and it is. … Not sure I phrased that right.

What to do when you can’t talk face to face

The newest video. Hopefully you find it mildly humorous.

Republicans are with us on vote by mail, maybe sort of

To be sure, it’s good news that a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed the even most Republicans think we should vote by mail if we’re still facing the COVID-19 pandemic in November. 65% of Republicans thought so, as did 79% of Democrats. So, done deal, right?

Not necessarily. What happens as Republicans keep being reminded that Republican politicians are afraid too many people will vote? As the linked article says, “President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election this year, has been trying with other Republicans to discourage efforts to expand voting by mail, saying it would increase the chance of voter fraud.”

Trump, of course, said the quiet part out loud: “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

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One-candidate virtual forum is up

Here’s the video of my virtual forum on YouTube. I’m including timestamps of the questions if you want to jump around, and they’re in the description on YouTube if you want to watch it there instead of the embed below.


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One-candidate virtual forum

For reasons that are hopefully obvious, there isn’t going to be a usual, in-person candidate forum, so were going to go virtual. I’ll answer some questions on my YouTube channel. Not that you can’t ask me whatever whenever, but to have your question included, send it either through the contact form, email eric@fergusonforhouse.com, go to Facebook and comment or message me, or contact me on Twitter. Clearly, getting a hold of me is not an issue.

UODATE: Here’s the video.

Messaging matters even with COVID-19, or Trump’s Katrina

We can get angry that Trump treats COVID-19 as just a PR problem, but as much as he’s made the pandemic worse than it needed to be, this is the rare case where he’s not entirely wrong. His messaging is working. Are you helping to counter it?

I’m referring in particular to how his polling numbers have improved during this crisis. Yes, you read that right, improved. According to 538, while Trump is still underwater, his net disapproval is the lowest it’s been since he first took office, minus 5.8% at this moment. This is despite how badly he screwed up, like ignoring intelligence warning he received all the way back in January.

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Free college, the movie

OK, “movie” might be a bit grandiose, but the newest campaign video is up, this one explaining “Commit to Minnesota”, a program to provide free post-secondary education to students who live in Minnesota at least five years after leaving school. If you’d rather watch it on Youtube, click here or click the Youtube logo in the video.

The goal is take money out of the equation when a young adult decides whether to continue education after high school. As much as more education is needed in the modern economy, the burden of student debt is intimidating enough to cause some of our young adults to just skip any sort of post-secondary education, or else they take on the debt and find it constrains every choice in life, reducing opportunity and increasing inequality.

We can do better.
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Video highlights and candidate forum

These are highlights from the candidate forum hosted by the SD63 DFL.

Expand voting with automatic voter registration

Though we take voter registration for granted, it was actually intended as a means to prevent voting. Specifically, it was invented in the 19th century to restrict voting by the “wrong” people; specifically, to interfere with voting by immigrants and the newly freed slaves. It’s still used in other states to make voting unnecessarily difficult. Some states have deadlines that come so early that few people are thinking about elections, or they get finicky about the precise sort of paper new registrations are submitted on. Tennessee tried to make registering voters practically a crime.

This might be a peculiar thought if, like me, you’ve spent a lot of time asking prospective voters to register — but it doesn’t have to be that way.
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New video: pumped hydro energy storage

If you’re someone who doesn’t want to read a long blog or article, good news, here’s a video on pumped hydro in, well, video form.

Even if you do read long articles, here’s a chance to hear my dulcet tones and see my beardy face explain why we need energy storage to allow renewables to replace fossil fuels, and why we should invest in pumped hydro.

Gay conversion therapy: Paul Gazelka hands DFLers an issue to run on

MNGOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has handed us an issue to help motivate our base by reviving the controversy over gay conversion therapy. The House passed a ban in the last legislative session, but the Senate declined to take it up. At least, that’s generally all that was heard on the issue. Was it a matter of running out of time, or dickering over the particulars of different House and Senate versions?

No. It was quite pointedly blocked by Gazelka, who got into the Senate by running on an anti-gay agenda, specifically making sure the one openly gay Republican legislator lost the party nomination for reelection. It turns out Gazelka subjected his own child to gay conversion therapy, and he evidently believes his job in the Senate is to impose his Christian fundamentalist beliefs on everyone else.

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Freezing air as energy storage

Though I propose Minnesota invest in pumped hydro energy storage partly because it’s existing technology, don’t take that to mean I’m against investing in research for new technology. I just don’t want to wait for new technology when we can do something now, and global warming seems not to be sitting around waiting. But research on new technologies, absolutely.

I recently read about a new proposed technology, frozen air. This would store energy by using the renewable electricity that can’t be used to cool air to compress it, and then release it when needed. It’s being proposed in Vermont, and that’s as much as I can explain. I refer you to the Scientific American article I read, To Store Renewable Energy, Try Freezing Air:

A British company called Highview Power proposes a novel solution: a storage system that uses renewable electricity from solar or wind to freeze air into a liquid state where it can be kept in insulated storage tanks for hours or even weeks.

The frozen air is allowed to warm and turn itself back into a gas. It expands so quickly that its power can spin a turbine for an electric generator. The resulting electricity is fed into transmission lines when they are not congested.

“Vermont has transmission issues,” explained Salvatore Minopoli, vice president of Highview’s USA affiliate. “It’s a situation that many places in the U.S. are dealing with where renewable energy is being deployed more and more. It’s power that’s intermittent. They need something to balance their system out.”

Freeway lids already in use

Much as I wish I could pump up my ego by claiming to be the only one to think of covering freeways, that’s not the case. I’ll settle for being one of the first. Better than patting myself on the back is to point out a couple places this has already been done:

Freeway lids are not a new concept. Cities are increasingly building new parks and public spaces on lids not only as connective tissue, but also as magnets for private investment and sources of tax revenue.

Two of the most successful lid projects are Klyde Warren Park, which covers the Woodall Rogers Freeway in Dallas, and Chicago’s Millennium Park, constructed over a railyard, both of which were studied as models by the ULI Minnesota panel. In addition, Bill Lively, who secured philanthropic support for Klyde Warren, and Hugh Murphy, former project manager for Millennium Park and now executive vice president at JLL, served on the panel.

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First campaign video: cover the freeways

The first campaign video is up. Being able to record video on a phone makes it quick to produce something. It definitely has that “produced in-house” look, but it seems to actually help in this case. The freeway noise helps make the point in a way just words don’t. Here it is embedded, but you can click the “Youtube” logo in the lower right to open it on the Youtube site. Remember to subscribe to the channel and click the bell to get notified when we put up a new video.

Impeachment is about precedent

Just to be clear, I’m under no misapprehension about what office I’m seeking, nor do I have the bizarre idea that state legislators get to vote on impeachment. I’m writing about the biggest issue facing our country at this moment because, frankly, that seems reason enough.

Something else I’m utterly clear about is that there’s no chance Republicans in either house of Congress will vote against their dear leader. Republicans have turned into an authoritarian party devoted to power ahead of democracy or rule of law. Feel free to suspect they’re lost in the personality cult of Trump, though I expect they would put the interests of their president and party first no matter who led them at the moment. They’ve simply changed over the last decades in way many failed to see until Trump made it impossible to miss. The upshot then is that Trump is not, and never was, under threat of being removed by conviction in the Senate. So why bother with impeachment at all?

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No Star Tribune, we’re still holding caucuses

There’s no intention to mislead I’m sure, just a misunderstanding of particulars about how caucuses and primaries work in the Star Tribune article, 15 Democrats qualify for Minnesota’s presidential primary ballot. Specifically, readers could be misled by this bit into thinking there aren’t caucuses this year:

Minnesota dropped its presidential caucuses in favor of a primary election for 2020. It is one of more than a dozen states and jurisdictions selecting nominees on Super Tuesday, four weeks after caucusgoers in Iowa kick off the race for delegates. Early voting in Minnesota begins on Jan. 17.

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Announcement of candidacy for Minnesota House District 63B

I’m excited to announce that I am seeking the DFL endorsement for state representative in House District 63B. I used to think “excited” was just hyperbole candidates used in their announcements, but since deciding to run, I’ve learned it’s actually the right word. A chance to get things done is actually exciting, at least to me.

I’m running because we face some large problems which need some big ideas to solve, and I have some big ideas.

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Pumped hydro is already in use

I mentioned on the climate section of the issues page that pumped hydro is already in use. Wikipedia has an article that explains how it works and some issues with it. A tl;dr version is that it’s in use generally in naturally hilly areas, and has been for over a century, so this is existing proven technology, not cutting edge stuff waiting on technology breakthroughs or startup funding.

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