Friday, October 22, 2010

The Hot Race

How does one judge what the hot race is? For me, its how close the race is, and how critical the office is.

On the basis of which race is close for an important office, I say the hot race in Arkansas is for Secretary of State. Only two other races fit the closeness criteria. First District Congress is close, but only includes one quarter of the state. Lt. Governor is close, but the duties of that office are limited. In most years, the duties of the Secretary of State are not as critical as Congress, but this is not most years. Redistricting is coming up, and the Secretary of State is one third of the formula. The decision made in redistricting will affect the political landscape of this state for years to come. The strategic race to push to your undecided friends is for Secretary of State.

Rep. Mark Martin is running against Pulaski Clerk Pat O'Brien (and head honcho for Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Arkansas)for the office. Martin has a narrow lead, and O'Brien has responded with nasty attack ads. Martin has used his expense accounts exactly like every other member of the legislature has used them, but O'Brien's ads try to portray it as some sort of corruption. In a good article that skillfully impacts both of the close state races, blogger Jason Tolbert points out that even the Democratic Candidate for Lt. Governor (Broadway), right beside O'Brien on the ballot, expenses like Martin does. Heck, they all do. Those are the rules the Democrat legislature has set out.

While efforts to portray Martin's standard-practices use of expensing as some sort of scam, O'Brien has some questions of his own to answer about posting private voter information, including bank account and social security numbers, in online databases accessible to the public and to identity theives.

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