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Libertarian Party holds annual state convention

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The Arkansas Libertarian Party held its convention this weekend. On Saturday, members decided on their nominees for various political positions.

"It's only the second time we've been able to nominate candidates in the name of Libertarian Party," said Frank Gilbert, who won the party's nomination for gubernatorial candidate.

The long-time third-party group is relatively young in Arkansas. They've doubled their party numbers here in the state in just two years.

"We've been called kooks by many people and marginalized, but in reality, I view us as visionaries," said Geoffrey Neale, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. "If you are Republican and Democrat, you can play in the game but if you're not, tough."

They call themselves the party of choice.

"I care about people; I care about rights for all," said party member Libby Madar.

Hobbs leaves Arkansas gov.'s race; to run for lt. gov.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - State Rep. Debra Hobbs says she is no longer running for governor and will instead run for lieutenant governor.

The Republican legislator announced Wednesday the lieutenant governor's office fits her agenda best. She says she wanted to work for government accountability, economic prosperity and post-secondary education.

Hobbs enters a race that already includes Republican state Reps. Andy Mayberry and Charlie Collins and former Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter, a Democrat. Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin is also considering a run.

There is no incumbent. Former Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Darr resigned Feb. 1 over ethics and campaign finance violations.

Hobbs' departure from the governor's race leaves former congressman Asa Hutchinson and Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman on the GOP side. Former congressman Mike Ross is the only Democrat running for governor.

Arkansas Gov. Beebe announces intent to pardon 5

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Gov. Mike Beebe has announced his intent to grant five pardons.

Beebe said in a news release Wednesday that each of the five have completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole- and probation requirements and paid all fines.

The five are Bobby Douthit of Lowell; James Hosford of Memphis, Tenn.; Cloris Jean Espinosa Madrid of Rogers; Jeffrey Petty of Beebe; and Latonya Tripp Washington of Forrest City.

Douthit was convicted of theft; Petty of theft and related charges; Washington of theft and cocaine possession; Madrid of delivery and possession of methamphetamine; and Hosford of possession and delivery of marijuana.

There is a 30-day waiting period for public comment before final action is taken.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

State seeks dismissal of gay marriage lawsuit

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The state is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Arkansas' gay marriage ban.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office filed court papers today arguing that sexual orientation is not a cause for equal protection, and that the plaintiffs aren't being treated differently because of their gender.

The motion also argues state officials should be dropped as defendants because they're not responsible for enforcing the ban.

In 2004, Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Lt. Gov. Darr to resign February 1st

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr will formally resign on Saturday.

It's unclear what will happen next, but THV 11's Dustin Wilson spoke with the governor on Friday.

It's clear that the governor does not want to hold a special election, but ultimately the legislature will have to decide what to do during the upcoming fiscal session.

Procedure would be to hold a special election, but legislative leaders showed the Governor a draft bill that would give him the discretion on whether to call the special election for Darr. House and Senate leaders said they'd rather keep the office vacant, since the election will be in November.

At this point the governor has not received an official resignation letter, although Darr released a statement to the public:

Darr makes resignation official in letter to state

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Three weeks after saying he'd step down over ethics violations, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has made his resignation official.

Darr submitted his resignation letter Friday to Secretary of State Mark Martin, stepping down in the wake of an $11,000 fine he received from the state Ethics Commission. Darr announced on Jan. 10 that he would resign but hadn't submitted a formal letter to Gov. Mike Beebe or any other officials.

Beebe had said he was unsure whether Darr's resignation would be official without a formal letter.

Darr, a Republican, had initially vowed to stay in office over the ethics violations tied to his campaign and office spending. But he relented after facing impeachment threats from Democrats and fellow Republicans in the Legislature.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Arkansas gov. backs bill keeping Darr office vacant

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says he'd sign into law legislation that would allow him to avoid calling a special election to replace Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who is set to resign this week over campaign finance and ethics violations.

Beebe told reporters Wednesday that legislative leaders have shown him a draft bill that would give him the discretion on whether to call the special election for Darr. House and Senate leaders say they'd rather keep the office vacant, since the election will be in November.

Darr announced earlier this month he would resign Feb. 1 after being fined $11,000 by the state Ethics Commission.

Beebe said he doesn't know if there are enough votes to consider the measure during next month's legislative session, but called the proposal acceptable.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)