My name is Joshua Eakle. I am running for Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee.
For the last two years, I have been operating as Chairman of the Knox County, TN Libertarian Party and running operations for the coalition of East-TN counties: the ETNLP (East TN Libertarian Party).
Alongside several activists, I founded the ETNLP and grew the Knox County affiliate from five members at monthly meetings to over 50 members every month. Our affiliate has seen thousands of dollars in personal donations and have made direct connections with the political leaders of East TN (Glenn Jacobs, Jeremy Faison, Justin Lafferty, Tim Burchett, Jimmy Matlock, Jimmy Duncan Jr, Martin Daniel, Roger Kane, just to name a few).
Through robust email marketing, social media marketing, and outright networking, we have been able to build one of the largest county affiliates in the country. We have built a network of activists in East TN ready to mobilize for Libertarian issues and have spent time at the state capital advocating for Libertarian legislative priorities.
In 2012, I founded RECURO.org as a platform for activists to promote Libertarian-leaning content regarding Tennessee and national politics. Today, we are getting over 20,000 page views a year, manage a growing list of hundreds of local readers, and are indexed in the major search engine news feeds. All this helps us build more legitimacy in the Libertarian message.
As the manager of operations for a marketing and business growth firm, my job revolves around working with a team to enter an organization, identify the barriers to success, and provide an organizational strategy to reach more customers. Working from home and making my own schedule empowers me to travel and stay regularly engaged in growing the LPTN.
With a ballot access defeat on the horizon for 2018, I think it’s time we take a new approach to procuring access to the ballot. I think my unique skill set and background can help us achieve this over the next four years.
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1) Ballot Access
Our efforts at achieving statewide ballot access have been fruitless. The threshold for ballot access retention almost guarantees that, even if we do achieve access, we will not hold it for long. The threshold is simply too high. Instead, we should encourage and support county affiliates to focus on county-by-county ballot access and use state resources to focus fully on public advocacy for a statewide legislative solution.
I would like to see ballot access bill (HB662, SB770) revised to clearly address the concerns of the State Senate about our primary system, among some other minor tweaks.
Our state leadership should be wholly focused on advocating for a legislative fix by throwing rallies in Nashville and participating in recurring “days on the hill.” We should be bothering legislators nonstop, and getting as much media attention as possible, until we have a legislative fix.
My plan is to spin up a Legislative Committee, who’s primary focus would be networking with legislators, drafting and submitting a new piece of legislation for the next legislative cycle, as well as advocating directly for other Libertarian legislative priorities.
2) Affiliate Support
The LPTN needs to know what’s going on across the state as it pertains to county leadership, candidates, and events.
With a huge mailing list, social media page, and constant web traffic, we should be utilizing our platform to get more exposure to county affiliate events, candidates, and leaders. The first step to doing this is to know what & who these items and individuals are.
I think the LPTN should put together a county affiliate packet, including forms tied directly to the state, that gives them the ability to easy notify the state on events that happen within their county. Anytime an event is submitted to the state, they can be sure we’ll distribute to our large network for promotion.
There are digital tools we can implement for no cost, that will provide a framework for county affiliates to work with the state. We can put the details of how to utilize these tools into a welcome packet for any new leader, giving them the direct ability to utilize our resources to be leverage the LPTN’s resources to be successful in their county.
3) Marketing & Fundraising
We are simply not doing enough from a marketing perspective.
First things first: we need to make sure that the Marketing Committee has posting privileges on every affiliate Facebook page statewide. This will give us a powerful ability to distribute content not only via LPTN channels, but concurrently on every affiliate channel as well, boosting our reach. This is commonplace among activism organizations nationwide.
We should be using our large mailing list to promote these county affiliate events statewide, to drive traffic to local meetings and to make sure subscribers are seeing activity, as well as being kept in the loop on the happenings within their area.
We should be constantly fundraising for the LPTN working to achieve a high level of recurring donors. With predictable cashflow, we can begin operating as a legitimate political party by creating ongoing budgets for candidate mailers, digital or physical advertisement for party initiatives, or party gatherings.
We can jump start this fundraising drive with incentives and quarterly fundraising drives. These drives will be promoted via email to our thousands of subscribers, and with social media reminders published through all county affiliate pages on an ongoing basis.
4) Political Unity
I believe that the role of state leadership is not to get tied up in internal drama. The role of state leadership is to promote unity between all Libertarians statewide.
The Chairman should have no real influence on internal party politics within the LPTN, he or she should simply serve to do the work. As Nick Sarwark said, “I’m running to be the least important person in the Libertarian Party.”
The message from the top of the party should be one that seeks to encourage affiliates to work together to grow the party, and I hope to exemplify that message.
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