Our Interview with Chris Bennett

We had the opportunity to interview Chris Bennett, founder of the new political consulting project Liberty Consulting. Mr. Bennett has worked on numerous LP campaigns over the years, and was Michael Badnarik’s Illinois state coordinator in 2004. He is a genuinely interesting guy. After speaking with him several times I believe that he and I share many of the same views.

TPW: Please tell us a little about the overall mission of Liberty Consulting and how you plan to help Libertarian candidates in the future.

Bennett: The overall mission of Liberty Consulting is to assist Libertarians candidates and their campaigns. To maximize the efforts of each campaign to its fullest. My group is something that the LP has needed for a long time and is available for any Libertarian candidate who wishes to utilize the services of the group. I have over 50 people on my group site wanting to see Libertarians elected and I think Liberty Consulting can be that machine to turn out Libertarian victories by the dozens.
_

TPW: Specifically, how many different races do you plan on involving yourself in next year?

Bennett: Right now I’m looking for potential and serious Libertarian candidates in those states where the LP has retained ballot access or where ballot access is not overwhelming. We need to start organizing NOW. We don’t have millions of dollars like the Democrats and Republicans. I live in Illinois and ballot access here is difficult for minor parties, so I probably won’t be working with LP candidates here. With that said, I would like to work with LP candidates in Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa or Wisconsin, preferably somewhere close to home. I will be attending the LP National Convention in Portland Oregon promoting Liberty Consulting and hopefully managing a few successful campaigns.
_

TPW: What are some simple steps you would suggest for a local Libertarian candidate to take in order to give their campaign a more professional and serious look?

Bennett: Remember that all politics is local. The LP platform is not going to effect most campaigns.

1 – Go to the meetings whether its city council, county commissioner, school board, zoning board, ect.

2 -Talk to your neighbors to see what are the most important issues in the community.

3 – Declare your candidacy in the local newspaper or local talk show. Utilize the media!

4 – Take a certain issue(s) and make it your platform. No more than 4 issues because if you have more than that your message becomes bungled. Keep it as simple as possible and offer some PRAGMATIC libertarian solutions.

5 – If you don’t know an answer to a question, do it tactfully. It’s okay to not know an answer but do some research on the particular question just in case the question comes up again. Libertarians tend to have the “foot-in-mouth” syndrome when a simple “Let me do some more research on that topic before I take an official stance on that issue.” Believe it or not, you will get plenty of respect from the voters. Remember those are the people you are trying to convince to vote for you.

6 – Don’t vilify the Libertarian name. If you favor gun control, run as a Democrat. If you want more government, don’t run as a Libertarian. Too many Libertarian candidates don’t run as libertarians but as Demopublican-lite.
_

TPW: What are your thoughts on the LP’s Unified Membership Plan (UMP) and how do you feel about reforming that system?

Bennett: UMP has to go! It’s a welfare system for the state parties. It takes away the functions the state parties should be doing. It isn’t National’s job to recruit members. It isn’t National’s job to recruit or get candidates on the ballot. It’s the individual state’s sole responsibility for these activities.

Like Tim West, I support the Squyres Proposal. I would be more likely to pledge 10 dollars a month because I feel that way it makes me more than just a member. I also think National had made some costly mistakes and squandered thousands of dollars on things which wasn’t needed. Razor’s Edge and renewing our lease at the Watergate Office Building is a waste of our money!
_

TPW: In 2004, you were the state coordinator for the Badnarik campaign. In terms of percentage, Illinois was Badnarik’s third best showing (0.62% or 32,442 votes). However, the natioanl campaign had decided to focus heavy spending and campaigning on battleground states like New Mexico, where they polled only 0.31% (2,382 votes) on election day. This seems like a huge error in strategy, and so I’m wondering… if you were managing a Presidential campaign how would you do things differently? What other things from that campaign do you feel should have been handled differently?

Bennett: Had I been in charge of the campaign I would not have done the battleground state strategy. I would have spent more money in states where the media markets are less expensive. Illinois gave the campaign it’s third highest vote total and did not spend one dime here. Badnarik was the only other candidate pn the ballot here. There were many states like Illinois where Badnarik was the only other choice on the ballot. I would have targeted those areas as well.

My plan had I been our presidential candidate’s campaign manager would have been to send him/her out to states where we are already ballot qualified. Would have spent 10-15K on signs buttons and literature to send to those states. I would have sent my VP candidate to help out petitioners in states we were trying to qualify in. When was the last time a LP presidential candidate went to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming or North Dakota?
_

TPW: As you’re someone who’s worked on several Libertarian Presidential campaigns, do you think the party might even be smart to take a break from running candidates for President? Could those resources be put to a better use locally?

Bennett: If all 50 LP state affiliates were active in candidate recruitment and electing Libertarians our presidential candidate would be getting more votes. Libertarians do not know how to market themselves. Most of what is needed in the long run is money. What it comes down to is that the states need to do their jobs as affiliates to make things successful. However, Michael Badnarik worked his rear off. I saw Andre Marrou in 1992 and when he came to Colorado that September, he looked very tired. I think he visited 46 states that year. Even though I don’t think we have had a successful campaign since 1980, I reluctantly would say we need to keep running a presidential ticket.
_

TPW: Do you have any eventual plans to run for office yourself?

Bennett: I’d love to run for Governor of Illinois in 2014 or LP VP slot in 2016 or Congress in 2010.

45 Responses to “Our Interview with Chris Bennett”

  1. Douglas E. Says:

    Maybe the LP should focus on winning just one state.

  2. Alex Peak Says:

    I’m not so sure about that. It’s sort’a like putting all your eggs into one basket.

    QUOTE: “Razor’s Edge…”

    Expressing my ignorance, what’s that?

  3. NewFederalist Says:

    “Razor’s Edge” is a software package to facilitate fundraising and other membership development activities. It was quite expensive.

  4. mark san souci Says:

    Does Chris Bennett have a website?

  5. Daniel Ong Says:

    Chris Bennett’s new blog is http://chrisbennettfromillinois.blogspot.com/ and his Yahoo group is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/libertyconsulting
    I don’t know of a website for him or his consulting company. He says he used to live in the Denver, Colorado area but I wasn’t active until last year and don’t know him.
    P.S. I think the fundraising software cost around $100k.

  6. Daniel Ong Says:

    Sorry, I didn’t see those two sites were already listed under “Other Useful Sites.” I had bookmarked them previously myself.

  7. Chris Bennett Says:

    Daniel,

    The yahoo group is for Liberty Consulting. And I was active in the LPCO between 91-96. A few of the old timers within the LPCO know who I am. Anyone can drop me an e-mail at blacknight_80751@yahoo.com if they have any questions?

  8. Tim West Says:

    I’d also add that one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to confuse national issues with state or local offices. NEVER EVER use a national issue to campaign on unless you are running a national campaign for federal office.

    If you are running for city office, the stuff you should go on about needs to stop at the city border unless specific issues are raised that concern the County, State, or Federal levels. Then frame them from a local viewpoint.

    I made this exact mistake in 2000, and I’m sure it cost me many votes.

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  43. Third Party Watch » Blog Archive » Chris Bennett Will Seek the Libertarian Party’s Vice-Presidential Nomination Says:

    [...] Libertarian activist Chris Bennett has announced that he will be seeking the party’s 2008 Vice-Presidential nomination. Chris has posted comments on this blog at times in the past, and about two years ago we interviewed him about a venture he was working on at the time. [...]

  44. Chris Bennett Will Seek the Libertarian Party’s Vice-Presidential Nomination in 2008 » Political Debate Zone Says:

    [...] Libertarian activist Chris Bennett has announced that he will be seeking the party’s 2008 Vice-Presidential nomination. Chris has posted comments on this blog at times in the past, and about two years ago we interviewed him about a venture he was working on at the time. [...]

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