CHAIR CANDIDATES, LNC 2020

Chair


Joe Bishop-Henchman

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The Chair is the party’s chief executive officer, spokesman, and chair of its board of directors. What relevant experience do you have for this role

Quite a bit. When they created the job, LP members made the Chair the party’s CEO, which means the he number one job of the Chair is to facilitate decisions. Both of those words are important: if you don’t facilitate, people don’t buy into what you’re doing and it’s not permanent, and if there aren’t decisions, then we’re adrift.

While we have staff and state affiliates, the hardest decisions bubble up to the LNC Chair’s desk. Do we renew e-canvasser or try to build our own thing? Do we invest in this fundraising strategy or that one? Do we hire this person or that person? You can delegate decisions, but the hardest ones still come back to you. A successful Chair has to set and achieve goals, provide oversight, and act.

I’m ready for it. My job right now is a lawyer for lawyers, the outside counsel brought in when in-house lawyers need help. I get the hardest problems, and every time my phone rings, it’s a crisis. I’m good at my job because I keep a cool head, sort through all the possible options, work with everyone to figure out a game plan, and see it through. I’m talking and emailing every day to tax administrators, clients, colleagues, politicians, and reporters.

I know what it takes to grow an organization, because I’ve done it before as a non-profit leader and board member: building fundraising teams, executing marketing strategies, sweating payroll, hiring and managing and developing staff, and strategic execution. SWOT analyses and Eisenhower grids and reporting on goals are all second nature to me. In my day job working in law and policy, I’ve gotten non-Libertarian elected officials to do Libertarian things and secured state tax reductions amounting to over $2 billion/year, been interviewed and cited in every major media outlet, and recently won the first round of a lawsuit against the IRS ordering them to refund over $100 million in wrongful fees.

As Chair, I can draw on this experience to inclusively set goals and execute strategies, navigate disputes, and empower our staff and volunteers to achieve great results.

What is your experience within the Libertarian Party, including any roles have you held and any campaigns for public office? How have these prepared you for Chair?

I’ve been a candidate, an activist, and a state chair since joining the Libertarian Party over 20 years ago as a teenager. I’m currently on the National Committee, have had the honor to chair the Bylaws Committee (where we won delegates’ approval of a record nine proposals, including one unanimously), and have attended numerous national and state conventions.

My first foray as an activist was helping organizing anti-curfew protests in San Diego, where I had my first media interviews (print, local TV news, and an MTV special). I was a press/policy aide for a campaign in California’s historic 2003 recall election and was president of my college Libertarians chapter hosting speakers for packed rooms. I want to make sure we have plenty of ready-made opportunities for our activists like lobby days, protest days, trainings, and great speakers.

My husband Ethan and I ran for DC office in 2018 to keep our ballot access, him running for Council Chair and me for Attorney General. He got 17,000 votes, beating my 14,000 votes, but we both beat the 12,000 votes Donald Trump got for President in 2016. Getting more votes than Trump in DC isn’t a high bar, but it’s one we had to beat and I’m glad we did.

On the national committee, I’ve worked across caucuses to achieve results like more resources for on-the-ground infrastructure and training, prioritizing fundraising, and balancing the LNC budget. I love championing good ideas across the finish line, steer clear of drama, and there’s rarely a week where I’m not helping our staff or contractors or state leaders overcome an obstacle so they can get the job done.

We ask a lot of our activists, our candidates, and our donors. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many good Libertarians get burned out by overcommitment or driven out by negativity and drama. As Chair, I will set an example for a healthy organization that is positive, welcoming, and energetic. I will publicize an “activist of the month” to share success stories, make sure we have the right roles for the right people, set up a support network for our elected officials so they can share best practices with each other after they win, and seek to make the national committee’s structure more effective, professional, and accountable. I promise concrete objectives, a willingness to try and test, and that we will reinforce success.

What is your vision for the future of the Libertarian Party?

A party that elects and re-elects principled Libertarians. Every day, in school boards, city councils, state legislatures, and in Congress, decisions are being made without Libertarians at the negotiating table. That needs to change, and I’m impatient to see it change because I know first-hand what a difference even one Libertarian at the decision-making table can make. We’re natural coalition builders, knowing the left in a way the right never will, and knowing the right in a way the left never will.

To elect Libertarians, we need to focus on building up the party’s infrastructure: data resources like our CRM and e-canvasser, volunteer training, messaging and media training, door-knocking and phone-banking programs, keeping 50-state ballot access, and fundraising to pay for it all. I’m excited by our Frontier Project, where the LNC is putting in strategic help, training, and volunteers for candidates in winnable races in the mountain West. We’ll learn what works and fix what doesn’t. I’m ready for us to get to the next level, and together we can build our party to win.

What experience do you have with donor development, and how do you intend to apply that to the Libertarian Party?

My previous job was COO of a national think tank for a decade, where we grew our annual fundraising from $1.6 million per year to $5.5 million per year. It came from applying best practices in fundraising like moves management and donor segmenting, vetting proposals and practicing pitches, and keeping a close eye on ROI. I’ve written a 20-page handbook on soliciting major gifts, evaluated prospects, gotten six-figure checks from in-person pitches, struck out and learned how to do better next time, and designed and executed strategies to boost that 1% mail open rate, 20% email open rate, and 50% renewal rate. On the LNC, I’ve gotten on the phone and helped secure nearly $100,000 in major gifts for LP projects.

Fundraising is very easy to mess up, and I’ve seen the good and bad choices made by plenty of organizations. We have to be willing to try new ideas, and I have the experience to be able to judge which calculated risks are worth testing and which ones we’ll probably lose our shirt on. The national Chair is responsible for facilitating the LNC to decide priorities and goals, and provide meaningful oversight of our staff as they execute their responsibilities. I’ll continue to make fundraising our top LNC priority, which is a recent decision (Nick hired our first-ever fundraising staffer, and a number of us on the LNC this term spearheaded the creation of a fundraising team). Everyone is eager to help us succeed at fundraising, and we need everyone’s help, and that requires focus and experience at the top.

What does libertarianism mean to you?

When I was a kid, there was an elderly couple that lived across the street, the Johnsons. The Johnsons were great people, everyone’s babysitters. One day, the powers that be decided that the highway being built near us meant the Johnsons house had to be seized and torn down. So the Johnsons said their sad goodbye, and a large swath of the neighborhood became an ugly empty lot. Shortly after, they re-routed the highway so the whole thing was pointless. At that young age, I realized that maybe the powers that be don’t know what they’re doing.

We’re Libertarians because we know this, because we’re not surprised at the waste and the corruption and the incompetence and the arrogance that pervades government at all levels. Our Party is different because we offer something more than just “our team” having mastery over the economy and morality of the country. We want to unleash the genius and creativity of what some call the market but what is really trillions of decisions made daily by free individuals, we want peace and trade, and we want problems solved by means other than intrusive regulations, spending fostering dependency, and endless war.

As national Chair, I will be Chair for all Libertarians, from civil libertarians to classical liberals to Ron Paul Libertarians and everything else in the upper quadrant of the Nolan Chart. We often get caught up on what divides us, but as Chair I’ll be our biggest cheerleader and set an example for unity across all factions.

While the party has made recent strides in local (mostly nonpartisan) elections, it has been twenty years since a Libertarian candidate was last elected to a state legislature. What will you do to ensure Libertarians are represented in state legislatures

Building up our party so we can elect and re-elect Libertarians to local office would be a number one priority. Of course, I’m impatient and want to see Libertarian senators, Libertarian governors, and of course a Libertarian in the Oval Office. The way we get there is to build up farm teams of elected Libertarian officeholders, campaign workers, volunteers who win over voters, and donors. It all starts with prioritizing fundraising, messaging that works, and infrastructure and data tools, and that’s where my focus will be as national Chair. I don’t know how long it will take, but (to paraphrase Kennedy), let us begin.

Joshua Smith

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The Chair is the party’s chief executive officer, spokesman, and chair of its board of directors. What relevant experience do you have for this role?

10 years managing skilled nursing facilities and fine dining restaurants, 12+ years of political activism and leadership. I have been featured on more than 50 podcasts and media networks, and spoken all over the country in front of Libertarians and the general public. 

What is your experience within the Libertarian Party, including any roles have you held and any campaigns for public office? How have these prepared you for Chair?
  • Regional representative in region 5 for the Libertarian Party of Washington. 
  • At Large Representative for the Libertarian National Committee. 
  • Chair of the National Affiliate Support Committee 
  • At Large Representative for the Libertarian Party Of California. 
  • Libertarian Party Of California Platform Committee 
  • Libertarian Party Of California Membership Committee 
  • Libertarian Party Of California Operational Committee 
  • Libertarian Party Of Contra Costa County Treasurer 

What is your vision for the future of the Libertarian Party?

I want a viable political party that takes federal seats from sad Republicans and Democrats. I believe we can achieve this through an agressive media and marketing strategy, candidate and activist training and tools, agressive fundraising, membership and candidate recruitment and retention. 

What experience do you have with donor development, and how do you intend to apply that to the Libertarian Party?

My donor development has mostly been learned through political activism. My first donor brought to the party was a max monthly donor. Since then I have added 1000s of members around the country to local, state, and national. Membership is the driving force behind our party, and my intentions are to double our membership over the next year. 

What does libertarianism mean to you?

The right to self determination. A right that has been trampled by governments around the world for centuries. 

While the party has made recent strides in local (mostly nonpartisan) elections, it has been twenty years since a Libertarian candidate was last elected to a state legislature. What will you do to ensure Libertarians are represented in state legislatures?

After ramping up up donor and membership recruitment I want to put more focus on the Libertarian Frontier Project. I have always held that targeting states with viable campaigns is the way to accomplish this. I also believe building candidate tools and materials like training videos helps candidate focus more on messaging to their districts instead of using tons of valuable time to learn all the ins and outs of building a successful campaign.

Mike Shipley

Candidate declined to respond.

Luke Wenke

Candidate declined to respond.

Jacob Lamont

Candidate declined to respond.