Justin Jones, a Libertarian candidate for state representative in northwest Arkansas, is suspending his campaign after a controversy erupted over bigoted remarks regarding gay people. Jones made the announcement late yesterday on his Twitter account, which has since been changed to a private setting, as well as a text message to KARK reporter Jessi Turnure, who broke the initial story. His campaign website is no more.
Jones, a real peach, opined on his personal Facebook page, “The likelihood of a fag catching HIV is 1000% more likely then [sic] any straight person” and wrote that “fags are disgusting.”
When confronted by KARK, Jones refused to back down, saying that he was merely speaking hard truths. “That might be too much for some people, but that’s why we’re getting them out of Public Office,” he said in a comment provided to KARK that was also posted on his now defunct website.
The Libertarian Party of Arkansas and the Benton County Libertarian Party immediately denounced Jones and called on him to drop out of the race. The county chair, Michael J. Kalagias, said in a statement that his “bigotry…is certainly not welcome and will not be tolerated by the Benton County Libertarian Party, the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, or the national Libertarian Party; nor should it be tolerated by any decent person of any political party. The Benton County Libertarian Party urges Mr. Jones to immediately abandon his campaign for office, and to refrain from returning to the political arena until such time as he has gained enough knowledge, wisdom, and maturity to do so responsibly.”
Jones initially refused to drop out, saying yesterday that despite the “backlash caused by the media,” he had informed Kalagias that his campaign would continue. However, by later in the day, the pressure apparently became too much and he dropped out.
Jones was challenging incumbent Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs) for the District 87 seat, which includes parts of Benton and Washington counties. A Democrat, Kelly Scott Unger, remains in the race.