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Arkansas Libertarians Gear Up For 2022 Election Cycle

Daniel Breen

Officials with the state Libertarian Party on Monday delivered signatures to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office to begin the process of fielding candidates for 2022.

State Libertarian Party Chair Michael Pakko says the party has turned in over 14,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office, officially designating them as a political party.

“Libertarians are very consistent in their views of having minimal government involvement in our lives, whether that’s in a social environment or in our economic environment,” Pakko said. “We’re in favor of repealing all laws against victimless crimes, we favor a smaller military and police force around the world, and basically just smaller government intrusion into our lives.”

This comes after the third party had its strongest-ever showing in a statewide race last year, with Senate candidate Ricky Dale Harrington garnering over 33% of the vote against Republican incumbent Sen. Tom Cotton. No Democratic candidate ran against Cotton and Harrington.

Pakko says rules governing third parties in Arkansas put them at a disadvantage compared to Democrats and Republicans.

“Here we are coming up on July, many of the candidates for the major parties have announced their candidacies, and we’re just now getting to the point where we can pivot and start recruiting candidates,” Pakko said. “We really had to go through this first step before we could even think about putting candidates on the ballot, we have to get on the ballot first.”

In Arkansas, third parties must garner 3% of the vote in either the gubernatorial or U.S. presidential race in order to retain their status as a political party without having to gather at least 10,000 valid voter signatures each election cycle. Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen received just over 1% of the vote in the 2020 election.

Pakko says he hopes Harrington, who recently announced he’s running for governor, will be able to meet that threshold in a governor’s race crowded with four Democratic and two Republican candidates.

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