- Brian Chilson
- Coleman: At a Tea Party meeting earlier this year.
Curtis Coleman, the former Republican Senate candidate and Tea Party darling recently appointed by Secretary of State Mark Martin to head up the office’s Review and Implementation Committee, has endorsed Republican Sen. Jason Rapert in his run for re-election in District 35. On a website for a “Campaign Kick-off” event for Rapert, Coleman is quoted:
“It is my privilege and honor to lend my personal enthusiastic endorsement and support for Senator Jason Rapert. Jason is not only a strong and principled leader for Arkansas today, he is the leader of the future for Arkansas’ return to the conservative Constitutional principles to which men of faith and courage, like Jason, have given themselves to make our State and Country great. Arkansas needs Jason in the State Senate now…and will need him even more in the future. I ask you to join me in generously and actively supporting his campaign to represent the people of Arkansas’s Senate District 35 and, indeed, all of the great people of Arkansas.” – Curtis Coleman
On Friday, Martin announced the creation of the new committee that would “help formulate policy for the office.” The committee is made up of nine other members, most of whom have Republican Party ties. The Secretary of State’s office is charged with handling the state’s elections by maintaining records, assisting county officials with elections, ensuring compliance with federal election laws, etc. During Martin’s campaign for the office, he issued a statement saying his employees would not “publicly endorse or oppose, or actively work for or against a candidate for an elected public office, a statewide ballot initiative, amendment, or referendum.” In a criticism of his opponent Pat O’Brien, who worked for the Obama campaign in 2008, Martin said, “As an election official, it is your duty to make sure that the elections are beyond reproach.”
Now the head of a committee formed by the Secretary of State’s office is publicly endorsing a candidate. Coleman is not an employee, but he is working in an advisory capacity for the office. I’ve asked Martin’s spokesperson how Coleman’s actions square with their campaign promises. I’ve also put in a call to Coleman to see if he thinks it wise to endorse candidates given his role as head of the committee.
UPDATE: Martin’s spokesman Alex Reed must have been in the neighborhood. He just stopped by to say that “Curtis Coleman has a first amendment right to endorse whoever he pleases.” “He’s not an employee of the office and he’s not advising on political matters,” Reed said, arguing that Coleman’s endorsement did not conflict with the office’s policy. When asked if he thought Coleman’s actions were at least ill-advised, Reed had no further comment. “We’ll just have to agree to disagree,” he said.