Thought you wouldn't have Larry Pressler to kick around any more? Think again.
Yesterday, Pressler released remarks he prepared for a speech he's making today to the Farmers Union Foundation in Aberdeen. The former Senator continues to press his "Pressler Pipeline Plan" to reroute Keystone XL through North Dakota to carry Bakken crude to Midwest refineries instead of piping tar sands oil down to the Gulf and away to China.
There is a great need to build one or two new pipelines across North Dakota, and the right-of-way for them already exists. The Midwestern refineries in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois are currently under capacity, and diesel fuel would be about $1 cheaper than having it refined in Louisiana.
It is more environmentally friendly to move crude oil and distillates by pipeline and we need to free up our railroad equipment to haul more grain. South Dakota farmers need rail access to get their grain to market, and having two pipelines in North Dakota to carry oil will relieve railroad congestion [Larry Pressler, press release, 2014.11.20].
I still prefer preaching conservation (we should less oil and less of the corn syrup to which most of that surplus ag freight is destined), but Pressler's economic details are better than anything our deluding Big-Oil-mouthpiece delegation will offer.
Larry Pressler, still on the hunt...
Getting into the swing, Pressler fires off another press release today, this one with three little ticklers. Humboldt's most famous John Deere jockey says he plans to "will work for centrist, independent, moderate thinking in politics." He says contributions to the foundation will be tax-deductible, which I assume means he plans to form a 501(c)3, which can register voters, encourage voting, maybe even form a think tank and host events featuring like minded Indies and centrists but cannot contribute to candidates.
O happy Independence and not having to check with Party Central to make sure he won't hurt anyone's feelings by forming his group! Two recommendations, Mr. Pressler:
- The Pressler Foundation should host a series of Lincoln-Douglas-style debates between prominent political figures on significant South Dakota political issues. Formulate clear resolutions, require speakers to stay on topic and focus on policy, and have you and other centrists serve as strict moderators and judges at the events. (First speakers: Stace Nelson vs. me!)
- Use these events and other fundraising to raise money to support and expand speech activities in South Dakota. Nothing promotes independent, rigorous, policy-oriented thinking better in our fair state than high school debate and Student Congress.
Along with promoting independent thinking, Pressler suggests we could also use some ballot education:
Several people told me they mistakenly double voted, as they innocently believed they could vote for two, and of course that invalidated their vote. There is a lot of misunderstanding about independent candidacies [Larry Pressler, Facebook message, 2014.11.21].
Clip from South Dakota general election sample ballot, 2014
Several people? What? O.K., nothing personal folks, but we're voting for Senator. Yes, we have two Senators, but, as the ballot says, underlined, in bold, we only get to vote for one at a time. It doesn't matter how many guys are running for that one spot; you still only get to pick one... at least until the Pressler Foundation successfully passes an initiative to allow instant run-off/ranked-choice voting. (But oh my; if we can't mark bubbles correctly, can we handle marking our top picks 1, 2, 3?)
But before he launches a foundation or agitates for ballot education reform, Pressler's has to pay the bills:
Meanwhile, I have a more immediate task. Our campaign raised only a total of about $200,000, largely from individual contributions such as yours. I know you have contributed, and I have asked, and some of you have contributed again, and while I do feel a bit audacious and embarrassed (but not apologetic), I do have a $250,000 deficit. I will probably pay it myself, but if you have not reached the $2,600 limit, I would ask that you consider contributing more [Pressler, 2014.11.21].
According to the FEC, Pressler reported being $355K in the hole on October 15, so he's made $105K worth of progress. But we should all appreciate the softest sell in any campaign finance pitch this year: I'll probably pay it myself, but if you want to help, that's o.k.
If Pressler is willing to drop that much of his own cash to close out his campaign, it will be interesting to see how much of his own cash and time he'll be willing to dedicate to promoting further political discussion along the centrist lines he desires.