St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
Anyone who knows Eric knows that he writes about a little bit of everything, whether it's taking a trip down memory lane, or praising and/or criticizing something or someone.
Setting up the campaign
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About this blog
By Eric Bergeson
Since 1997, Eric has owned and operated Bergeson Nursery, rural Fertile, MN, a business his grandfather started in 1937. With the active participation of his parents, who owned the business for the previous twenty five years, and his younger brother ...
Eric Bergeson's The Country Scribe
Since 1997, Eric has owned and operated Bergeson Nursery, rural Fertile, MN, a business his grandfather started in 1937. With the active participation of his parents, who owned the business for the previous twenty five years, and his younger brother Joe, who is now president of the company, the business has nearly tripled in size during Ericís ownership tenure. The holder of a Master of Arts in History from the University of North Dakota, Eric has taught courses in history and political science at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. He is also an adjunct lecturer in history for Hamline University, St. Paul, MN. Ericís hobbies include Minnesota Twins baseball, Bach organ music, bookstores, hiking, photography, singing old country music with his brother Joe, and watching the wildlife on the swamp in front of his house eight miles outside of Fertile, Minn.
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May 6, 2014 12:01 a.m.

I am working almost full-time on my campaign for the Minnesota House of Representatives. A couple of weeks ago, that meant moving to town, a process which took much more effort than expected. Cleaning up the Swamp Castle for the renters was a bigger task than I had imagined, and Lance ended up doing most of it. Now we are in town, but our life sits in garbage bags. In front of me is a garbage bag full of jeans I no longer can fit into, but when I get out of bed in the morning, I can't find the jeans I am able fit into.
As for the campaign, it is important to raise money early on to establish your credibility as a candidate. Because I signed the Minnesota Public Subsidy agreement, there are some pretty detailed rules. I can spend a maximum of $66,000. I can accept gifts up to $1000, but only until I reach a maximum of $12,500 of gifts larger than $500. Got that? Also, the $66,000 limit applies to campaign expenditures. There are also non-campaign expenditures, such as food for volunteers, that don't count towards that limit. I can contribute no more than $5000 to my campaign. I must charge people who help with the campaign in professional ways (such as graphic design) their usual rate, or at least count it against my campaign limit as an in-kind donation.
Duly confused, my treasurer Gloria and I have decided to hire an accountant to make sure things are on the up and up. The accountant's fee, by the way, is a non-campaign expenditure.
Minnesota residents qualify for a refund of up to $50 of donations to political campaigns and parties each year. To make use of the refund program, the donor writes a check to the candidate. The candidate's treasurer provides a reciept and a form to the donor, which the donor mails to the Department of Revenue––which then sends a check for $50 (or a lesser amount) to the original donor, usually about four weeks after the forms are mailed in.
Although this exchange of dollars might seem silly at first blush, it really is good for me as a candidate and good for people who are lower income brackets. I can now approach people of limited means for donations, knowing that if they do not give more than $50, it won't cost them a dime. They can choose how to spend that $50--either on my campaign, on somebody else's campaign, or not at all. Therefore, people who can't afford donations are given a small measure of power in the money game.
No corporate donations are allowed. However, PAC money is acceptable. I won't be in that game until I receive the endorsement by the party. I have already received several questionaires from various organizations.
I am busy addressing envelopes, going through phone books, contact lists, everything, mailing donor envelopes and a letter to people I think might want to give me a boost. That in itself is a wrestling match in my mind as I hate to impose, yet I don't want anybody not to donate because "he never asked!" The state apparatus is watching the totals very carefully to see if I am a viable candidate. The broader my donation base, and the higher the total, the more likely they are to toss in some help of their own down the stretch.
The DFL House Caucus will be taking polls as well, but I will not be privy to the results. That is fine with me. I will run as if I am one percent behind all summer.
I am also reading Judge Jack Davies' book on legislative law and process over and over. It is delightful. It is also scary. It just shows what a demanding intellectual exercise it is to serve in a legislative body. I think I am up to the challenge, should I be faced with it, but one thing is for sure: You'll never make everybody happy, and you're going to take a whupping for some of your votes simply because there is no way to explain to the general public the ins and outs of legislative horse trading without sounding like a squish. But horse trading, negotiation and compromise are the essense of the system.

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