Mark West will represent the Libertarian Party of Arkansas on the 2018 general election ballot as the party’s candidate for governor. The Batesville business manager and part-time pastor says state voters need an alternative choice to Republicans and Democrats.
“I’m running as a Libertarian because I believe that we offer something different than you’re getting. You have, typically in Arkansas, it tends to be a centrist state, especially if you follow presidential elections and the gubernatorial races, it always tends to wind up in the center,” he said.
“What we want to do is bring free market approaches back to Arkansas. Free market approaches back to health care, back to how we operate businesses, how we treat businesses in Arkansas. Because we believe that will bring everybody up together,” he said.
West ran unsuccessfully for First District Congress in 2016 against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro. With no Democrat on the ballot, West pulled 23%. He says the Libertarian ticket wants smaller government, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a party without compassion. He uses health care as an example.
“I think that once we begin with Medicaid with the basis that we are compassionate people. That’s where Medicaid comes from is this idea that we’re compassionate to those without, we’re compassionate to those with need,” West said. “We are realistic, we understand that there are people that depend on it, so you have to begin a process.”
He sees more free market approaches to current government-influenced industries and regulations as adding to costs and contributing to waste, fraud and abuse. “You have better checks in the private market because people can opt out. When you have a government program, you can’t opt out. Your taxes are still going to be collected, you’re still going to have to pay for it. You don’t get the option of saying, ‘Well, I’m not going to pay for Medicaid because it’s not working. No, it’s still comes out of your check every week.”
A big hurdle for West and the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, which held its convention this weekend, is getting past a 3% threshold with voters in the governor’s race. If West can earn 3% or more of the votes, the LPA will not have to collect signatures to be recognized as a political party in the 2020 election cycle.
“I believe we’re going to get more than 3%,” West said. “Our percentages are [going] up.”
You can watch West’s full interview in the video below.