Ed Clark

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Ed Clark
Libertarian National Committee
Temporary State Chair
Libertarian Party of New York
April 22, 1972—1972
Predecessor: Inaugral
Successor: Jerome J. Klasman
Personal Details
Birth: May 4, 1930 (age 87)
Education: Tabor Academy
Dartmouth College
Harvard University (JD)
Military: United States Navy
Occupation: Lawyer, Politician
Residence: San Marino, California
Party: Libertarian Party
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Edward E. 'Ed' Clark (b. May 4, 1930) is an attorney from San Marino, California.[1] He is best known for his 1978 campaign for Governor of California, and his 1980 Campaign for President of the United States.In 2012, he was inducted into the Hall of Liberty.

Early Life (1930-1972)

Clark, born in Massachusetts, was an honors graduate of Dartmouth College and received a law degree from Harvard Law School.

He was the first State Chair of the New York Free Libertarian Party and upon relocating was elected the State Chair of the Libertarian Party of California. He was elected Vice-Chair of the national party at the 1972 National Convention in Denver, Colorado.


1978 California Gubernatorial Campaign

In 1978, Clark ran for Governor of California. Although he was a registered Libertarian, the Libertarian Party did not yet have ballot status in California and he ran as an independent. Clark received some 377,960 votes, 5.46% of the popular vote. His vote total in that election is still a Libertarian Party gubernatorial record.

1980 Presidential Campaign

Ed Clark 1980 Presidential campaign excerpt

In 1980 Clark won the Libertarian Party nomination for the Presidency at their party 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 tailored his appeal to liberals and progressives unhappy with the resumption of Selective Service registration and the arms race with the Soviet Union. 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. A growing split within the Libertarian Party between a moderate faction (including Clark) and a purist faction led by Rothbard eventually came to a head in 1983, with the moderate faction walking out of the party convention.

Ed Clark's running mate in 1980 was David Koch of Koch Industries, who pledged part of his personal fortune to the campaign in exchange for the Vice-Presidential nomination. Koch contributed about $2 million of the Clark campaign's $3.5 million fundraising haul.[2]

Clark received 920,049 votes and 1.06% of the total nationwide; Libertarian Party presidential candidate records that would stand until Gary Johnson's 2012 and 2016 campaigns. 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.


1980 Total
January 169,226
February 24,219
March 41,066
April 147,759
May 139,619
June 149,568
July 253,225
August 621,315
September 738,116
Oct 1 - Oct 15 405,195
Oct 16 - Nov 24 318,190
Nov 25 - Dec 31 52,597
1980 Total 3,060,095


Electoral Results

1980 United States Presidential election
Party Name/Running Mate Electoral Votes Percent Votes
Republican Ronald Reagan / George H. W. Bush 489 50.75% 43,903,230
Democratic Jimmy Carter / Walter Mondale 49 41.01% 35,480,115
Independent John Anderson / Patrick Lucey 0 6.61% 5,719,850
Libertarian Ed Clark / David Koch 0 1.06% 920,049
US Citizens Barry Commoner / LaDonna Harris 0 0.27% 233,052
Communist Gus Hall / Angela Davis 0 0.05% 44,933
American Independent John Rarick / Eileen Shearer 0 0.05% 40,906
Socialist Workers Clifton DeBerry / Matilde Zimmermann 0 0.04% 38,738
Various All Others 0 0.15% 127,726


Preceded by:
Roger MacBride
Libertarian Party Presidential candidate
Succeeded by:
David Bergland
Preceded by:
John Hospers
Libertarian Party California Gubernatorial Nominee
Succeeded by:
Dan P Dougherty