While the Democratic and Republican parties garner the vast majority of media attention, fund raising, and votes the Libertarian Party of Arkansas is busy organizing.
The party held its nominating convention in Little Rock February 21-23. After extensive signature gathering efforts the party is on the ballot statewide. Party Chairman Jessica Paxton said a number of candidates were nominated Saturday.
“We nominated 26 candidates that will be on the ballot all over the state of Arkansas come November. We nominated candidates for US Senate, for all four congressional districts, for all seven constitutional offices – that's governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor and land commissioner. We also nominated candidates for several state house races, justice of the peace, constable, and county judge.” said Paxton.
Paxton expects the party to perform better in smaller races where the disadvantage Libertarians face in fund raising will be minimized.
As with most third parties in Arkansas the contest for Governor is crucial. If their nominee Frank Gilbert garners three percent of the vote the party will automatically be placed on the ballot next election without facing the requirement of an extensive and expensive signature gathering effort.
Frank Gilbert beat out two other candidates for the gubernatorial nomination. Speaking Saturday Gilbert said he is strongly opposed to the private option.
“To think that the Republican Party gained the majority both in the house and the senate basically promising not to implement Obamacare, then through the rouse of the private option have done exactly what they said they would not do,” said Gilbert.
He said the situation is tough for the 100,000 plus who have gained access to coverage through the private option but said there isn’t a perfect solution for them.
The only Democrat in the race Mike Ross has stated his support for the private option while Republican front runner Asa Hutchinson has not stated his position on re-authorizing funds for the program.