WHERE'S MARK MARTIN? Susan Inman emphasized the missing candidate in today's AETN debate.
the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, opened her appearance on AETN's debate this morning by emphasizing incumbent Republican Mark Martin's absence from the debate and the new Blue Hog reporting on Facebook evidence that Martin spends dozens of work days at home in Prairie Grove, not at work in the Capitol.
She and Libertarian candidate Jacon Holloway both criticized the Republican-passed voter ID law and Inman pointed out the failure by Martin's office to educate the public about the new law, which she called a "solution without a problem." Inman suggested ways to improve the law if it isn't struck down in court, including following the pattern of other states to relieve elderly voters from the ID requirements on absentee ballots. That rule led to hundreds of ballot disqualifications in the primary.
Moderator Steve Barnes said Martin informed AETN he wouldn't appear because of a scheduling conflict. I've attempted since Saturday to get Martin's office to say what was on Martin's schedule today. No answer has been provided.
Holloway said he'd run into Martin at a neighborhood meeting in North Little Rock yesterday and encouraged him to attend today's debate. Holloway commented: "Somebody who's been in office doesn't want to stand up to public scrutiny?" He said he was frustrated by the lack of leadership in state government and the law that suppresses voting.
Inman said Martin had spent tax money frivolously or even illegally — including on travel — that could have been spent on voter education.
Inman also said Martin had failed to take steps to replace outdated voting machines that are due for wholesale replacement statewide. She said she'd bring experts together as soon as she's elected to work on the issue.
Inman said it was a joke that it took research on Facebook to find information about the whereabouts of the secretary of state.
Inman said she was qualified and promised to be "engaged" and to show up for work every day. She said she'd restore ethics and transparency to the office. Holloway passionately criticized Martin for lacking the courage to show up for the debate.
UPDATE: It took five days but I finally got an answer from Mark Martin's office about his whereabouts today. He was in Russellville from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to speak to a Kiwanis Club and tour Arkansas Nuclear One. I don't have an answer to my question to when this visit was arranged. AETN has been working on its debates for months. I'm guess the Kiwanis and Nuclear One were flexible as to Martin visits. The AETN debate in Conway was at 10 a.m.