Edward Emerson Clark is an attorney and the 1980 Libertarian Party presidential nominee. Ed Clark, a corporate attorney in New York and Los Angeles, opposed the Vietnam War while remaining a Republican, but when President Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls in 1971, he joined the Libertarian Party and quickly became a member of its national committee and California State Chair. In 1978, he stood as the Libertarian candidate for governor of California, winning 377,960 votes, or about 5.5% of the total cast. That success led to his selection as the party’s 1980 presidential nominee. Along with running mate David Koch, a businessman who made large contributions to the campaign, he appeared on all 50 state ballots and that of the District of Columbia, an unprecedented achievement for a third‐​party campaign. A close election between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and the presence on the ballot of independent John Anderson may have depressed the party’s chances, and Clark received 920,000 votes (about 1.1%). Although the campaign was successful in some ways—it had gained respectful, if not plentiful, media attention, inspired some 300 Students for Clark organizations, distributed hundreds of thousands of copies of its campaign book, and placed no less than 47 five‐​minute ads on national television—the results were disappointing. Following the 1980 campaign, many of Clark’s key supporters appear to have lost interest in the party, and a number of them drifted away. Clark remains an active Libertarian, and his wife, Alicia, served as national chairman from 1981 to 1983.

Further Readings

Clark, Ed. A New Beginning. Ottawa, IL: Caroline House, 1980.

Doherty, Brian. Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern Libertarian Movement. New York: Public Affairs, 2007.

Kelley, John L. Bringing the Market Back in: The Political Revitalization of Market Liberalism. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

David Boaz
Originally published