The secretary of state's office today said Rod Bryan, a Little Rock musician and record store owner, had gathered sufficient signatures to qualify as a candidate for governor as an independent. Needing 10,000, the secretary of state's office stopped counting when it got to 10,052, a spokeswoman said. She said he had submitted 11,650 signatures. (CORRECTION: We got a callback that we missed Monday night saying we'd been given incorrect information originally. 11,750 signatures were submitted and all were checked.)
Waiting in the wings is former state Rep. Jim Lendall, expected to sue to invalidate higher petition requirements for his Green Party candidacy. He has already submitted enough signatures, if valid, to run as an independent, but a third-party candidate needs 24,000 signatures, which Lendall argues is unfair.
Nobody expects Bryan or Lendall to win, of course. But Republicans are gleeful about their candidacies (liberal by the general understanding of the term), presuming their votes will come at the expense of Democrat Mike Beebe rather than Republican Asa Hutchinson. If you presume there's a 42 to 45 percent Republican base in Arkansas, you can see where three or four percentage points could become critical.