Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin has approved the petitions of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas as a “new political party” for the fourth consecutive election cycle. The party has to submit a mandatory number of petitions to achieve party status unless its top candidate receives more than three percent of the general election vote.
Party officials announced the news in a press release on Wednesday July 12 and said it would begin candidate recruitment for 2018.
LPAR Treasurer Stephen Wait said, “Petitioning to become a new political party again cost over $25,000 and a lot of volunteer hours. Despite the obstacles the old parties put in our way, we are happy to provide freedom loving Arkansans the opportunity to vote for candidates who will represent their views.”
Vice-chairman Chris Olson added, “It’s an important election with all constitutional officers up for election. We are committed to providing the people of Arkansas with a strong set of pro-liberty candidates. We will not shirk from our commitment to providing a consistent voice for limited responsible government.”
The Libertarian Party of Arkansas had submitted 15,108 signatures on its petitions to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s office on June 12th. Those signatures were validated on July 10 with 12,749 signatures. To retain ballot access in the next election cycle, the party’s candidate for Governor will have to receive three percent of the votes cast for Governor in the 2018 election.
In a statement to the press, LPAR chairman Michael Pakko said he’s “optimistic” about his party’s chances of maintaining their officials status next year.
“The Libertarian Party has been gaining support and interest. We’ve already had one strong candidate step forward seeking our nomination, and I anticipate that we’ll be able to mount a real challenge to the status-quo parties in this election,” he said.
Mark West, who ran on the Libertarian ticket for First District Congress in 2016, received 23.7% of the vote against incumbent Republican Rep. Rick Crawford. No Democrat challenged for the seat in 2016.
West, who lives in Batesville, has indicated he plans to run for Governor on the Libertarian ticket in 2018.