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Arkansas Libertarians Try To Get In On Special Election For State House

Possible Libertarian State House candidate Rick Bernard wearing a t-shirt depicting a turban as a bomb. The image was drawn by Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas is hoping to take advantage of a special election for a north Arkansas state House race. The party announced plans on Monday to hold a special nominating convention in Yellville at the end of this month.

Republican Kelly Linck vacated the legislative seat earlier this year to take a position at the Department of Human Services, leaving just two months left in the term after the special election.

Libertarian Party Vice Chair Christopher Olson expects open-carry activist Rick Bernard to throw his hat in.

“He’s involved in the Act 746 movement, constitutional carry,” said Olson. “The little bit I’ve been involved with him was back supporting Frank Gilbert’s run for governor two years ago.”

Olson said the party’s last gubernatorial nominee performed better in the north Arkansas district than elsewhere, something Gilbert attributes to Bernard's organizing work.

“Frank Gilbert seemed to think he did extremely well in that area compared to other districts. He stated some of his biggest percentages [in 2014] were from Marion County and that area,” Olson said.

Gilbert, who is now running for U.S. Senate against Democrat Conner Eldridge and Republican incumbent John Boozman, fared slightly better than his 1.9 percent statewide average in the counties compromising House District 99. His support edged over 3 percent in communities near Bull Shoals Lake like Flippin, Bergman, Lead Hill, and Diamond City. The district's northern border is Missouri.

Republican Jack Fortner has already declared he will run in the special election to fill the remainder of the term, in addition to being on the regular election ballot for the next term. Both elections will be held on November 8th. No Democrats have publicly expressed interest in running for the spot.  

Jacob Kauffman is a former news anchor and reporter for KUAR.
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