Despite numerous obstacles in the 2020 electoral cycle, the Libertarian Party of Arkansas continued to grow as an effective political force in Arkansas. The LPAR has been on the general election ballot in Arkansas for five consecutive electoral cycles, and our vote percentages have continue to climb. In the 2020 election, Libertarians earned an average of 14.7% of the vote in races where they ran, up from 9.7% in 2018.
Leading the way in votes, our candidate for U.S. Senate, Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr., received nearly 400,000 votes. At 33.5%, Mr. Harrington achieved the highest percentage ever garnered by a Libertarian in any statewide race, nationwide. Also notable: Stephen Edwards edged closer in his third effort to run for Arkansas House, District 77, with a 32.5% vote share. And Zach Mulson’s 40.6% share in his race for Benton County J.P. showed the strong support that Libertarian candidates have at the local level.
These results would not have been possible without the dedicated candidates, organizers and volunteers who drive this Party. The 2020 election represented a breakthrough performance by all of our activists. Despite the obstacles, both typical and extraordinary, we saw teamwork and organization that surpassed anything we have accomplished before.
Better yet is the energy and enthusiasm that continues to pervade the Party, generating a momentum to carry us forward. We have a new generation of activists and leaders who have the experience and drive to take us to the next level. And the enthusiasm is contagious.
But the challenges we face going forward are formidable. The task at hand is to consolidate that experience and energy in building the Party toward 2022, and there’s a lot to be done.
The Jorgensen/Cohen presidential ticket received less than the 3% requirement for continued recognition as a political party in Arkansas, so we are once again facing ballot access issues. (Never mind that our Senate candidate received over one-third of the vote statewide, Arkansas law dictates that political party status depends only on the votes for President or Governor). Moreover, we were on the ballot in 2020 with the help of a federal court injunction [Libertarian Party, et al. v. Thurston]. The injunction was upheld at the appellate level but final resolution of the case is yet to be determined.
Consequently, ballot access will require a multi-dimensional approach. Our success in federal court will make it incumbent on the legislature to reconsider ballot access laws. We need to be ready to mobilize to lobby for sensible reform. We also might consider further legal challenges, and we’ll most undoubtedly face the necessity of running a petition campaign for the 2022 ballot. All of this will require significant support from volunteers and donors.
Looking ahead, we’ll be having the LPAR Annual Convention in June, where we will have an opportunity to chart our course forward. At the 2021 Convention, we will be electing a new slate of Officers, re-forming all of the Party’s committee structures, and setting priorities for the next election cycle.
It’s a challenging, but exciting time to be a Libertarian in Arkansas. We appreciate and need the ongoing support of our voters, activists, members and donors. If you haven’t joined the Party as a dues-paying, voting member, please show your support at lpar.org/join/. Or you can contribute to the cause at lpar.org/contribute/.
Wishing all a New Year that is joyous and free,
Chair, Libertarian Party of Arkansas