|Libertarian candidate for
President of the United States
November 4, 1980
|Running mate||David H. Koch|
|Opponent(s)||Ronald Reagan (R)
Jimmy Carter (D)
John B. Anderson (I)
|Incumbent||Jimmy Carter (D)|
Ed Clark (born 1930) is an American lawyer and politician who ran for Governor of California in 1978, and for President of the United States as the nominee of the Libertarian Party in the 1980 presidential election.
 1978 California governor campaign
In 1978, Clark received some 377,960 votes, 5.46% of the popular vote, in a race for Governor of California. Although a member of the Libertarian Party, he appeared on the California ballot as an independent candidate.
According to a 1980 article in Mother Jones magazine, Clark's 1978 vote ran strongest in "wealthy Orange County, a long-time stronghold of right-wing sentiments; in the back country of the Sierra Nevada, where loggers, miners and developers rail against government restrictions on land use; in Berkeley and the gay neighborhoods of San Francisco, which share the Libertarians' antipathy for drug laws and vice squads; and in the cocaine-and-Perrier precincts of Marin County..."
Another factor leading to the unprecedented (for California) 5.46% vote total for Clark was his libertarian campaign occurring the same year as the successful Proposition 13 which limited property taxes, and the unsuccessful anti-gay Briggs Initiative (Proposition 6). Clark and the California Libertarian Party campaigned in support for Proposition 13 and in opposition to Proposition 6 both of which turned out people to the polls who might be more inclined to favor a libertarian candidate.
 1980 Presidential campaign
In 1979 he won the Libertarian Party presidential nomination at the party's convention in Los Angeles, California. He published a book on his programs, entitled "A New Beginning". The book's introduction was by Eugene McCarthy. During the campaign, Clark positioned himself as a peace candidate and emphasized both large budget and tax cuts, as well as outreach to liberals and progressives unhappy with the resumption of Selective Service registration and the arms race with the Soviet Union. Clark was endorsed by the Peoria Journal Star of Peoria, Illinois.
When asked in a television interview to summarize libertarianism, Clark used the phrase "low-tax liberalism," causing some consternation among traditional libertarian theorists, most notably Murray Rothbard. Clark's running to the center marked the start of a split within the Libertarian Party between a moderate faction led by Ed Crane and a radical faction led by Rothbard that eventually came to a head in 1983, with the moderate faction walking out of the party convention after the nomination for the 1984 presidential race went to David Bergland.
Ed Clark's running mate in 1980 was David H. Koch of Koch Industries, who pledged part of his personal fortune to the campaign for the vice-presidential nomination, enabling the Clark/Koch ticket to largely self-fund and run national television advertising.
Clark received 921,128 votes (1.06% of the total nationwide); the highest number and percentage of popular votes a Libertarian Party candidate had ever received in a presidential race up to that point. His strongest support was in Alaska, where he came in third place with 11.66% of the vote, finishing ahead of independent candidate John Anderson and receiving almost half as many votes as Jimmy Carter. Clark's record for most votes won by a Libertarian presidential candidate stood for 32 years until it was broken by Gary Johnson in 2012. His Libertarian percentage record of 1.06% still stands, ranking ahead of Johnson's 0.99%.
- Doherty, Brian. Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, New York: Publicaffairs, p. 406
- Paul, Mark. "Seducing the Left: The Third Party That Wants YOU". Mother Jones, May 1980.
- Doherty, p. 405-406
- Libertarian Review, vol. 7 no. 9 October 1978
- JoinCalifornia election history for the state of California, http://www.joincalifornia.com/election/1978-11-07
- See, for example, The "Ed Clark: Isolationist Libertarian" television ad at http://www.icue.com/portal/site/iCue/chapter/?cuecard=5818 and NBC's August 8, 1980 profile of the Libertarian Party at http://www.icue.com/portal/site/iCue/chapter/?cuecard=3253
- Doherty, p. 414
- Doherty, p. 415
- Raimondo, Justin. An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard, Prometheus Books
- Hayes, Christopher. "Ron Paul's Roots". The Nation, December 6, 2007
- Doherty, p. 418-421
- U.S. Presidential Election Atlas, http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1980&off=0&f=1
- U.S. Presidential Election Atlas, http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/state.php?year=1980&fips=2&f=1&off=0&elect=0
- 2012 Presidential Election at Our Campaigns
- U.S. Presidential Election Atlas
|Party political offices|
|Libertarian Party Presidential candidate