Arkansas has the highest legislative filing fees in the US.
Here’s a PDF of the names of current DPA State Committee members. (A contact form for State Committee members can be found at the bottom of this page.)
In 2018, candidates running for the Arkansas House of Representatives—Democrats and Republicans alike—had to pay their respective parties $3,000 to file to run. Democratic candidates running for the Arkansas Senate had to pay the Democratic Party of Arkansas $4,500 to file to run, while Republican candidates had to pay the Republican Party of Arkansas a whopping $7,500 to file.
How out of line are our state’s fees compared to filing fees in other states? In more than 40 states, the fee to file is $250 or less.
Why are our fees so out of line? Arkansas is one of just three states that let political parties set their own fees. In the other 47 states, the fees are set by statute.
Each political party is responsible for setting its own fees. The Democratic Party of Arkansas State Committee is tasked with setting most filing fees, including filing fees for state legislative races, for the Democratic Party of Arkansas.
Some argue that a candidate should be able to demonstrate an ability to raise money in order to prove her viability. It’s true that a candidate should expect to need to raise several thousand dollars or more to compete effectively for a state legislative seat, but a filing fee does little if anything to directly benefit her campaign; it’s simply the price to play. The candidate might see some portion of her fee returned to her in the form of a contribution from the DPA, but there’s no guarantee. In one of the poorest states in the country, the party of working people shouldn’t require filing fees that range from nearly seven to nearly 10 percent of our state’s median household income.
Also: It’s not uncommon for candidate recruitment to continue right up to (or in some cases, during) the filing period. A candidate who makes the decision to run months in advance of filing has more time to raise the fee, whereas a candidate weighing the decision with just days to decide faces a much shorter window.
In short, high filing fees do not directly benefit a candidate’s campaign; they can make it more difficult to recruit candidates; they send the wrong message to everyday Arkansans; and they’re not a sustainable revenue stream for the party.
At its next meeting on Saturday, June 1, the DPA State Committee will meet to discuss filing fees for the 2020 cycle. The DPA isn’t yet sharing contact information for current members’ of the committee—they’re requiring that members approve the release of their information—but the names of members are available. Here’s a PDF of the names of current DPA State Committee members. If you know anyone on this list, I encourage you to contact him or her to support lower filing fees for Democratic candidates.
You can also contact the DPA directly at (501) 374-2361 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, consider becoming a sustaining contributor to the DPA by joining its Heart of the Party program.
By the way, here’s a link to SB606, a bill I filed during the 2019 regular session to set fees by statue. (The bill did not become law.)
If you’d like to talk to me about this issue, call me at (479) 966-9201, or email me at email@example.com.
Thank you for your time. -g
Use the form below to send an email to members of the DPA State Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org).