NO WORD: Secretary of State Mark Martin is among four top Republicans who've not responded to AETN invitations to participate in televised debates.

The news that Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton will debate in Fayetteville on live TV prompted me to check with AETN on their debate schedule.

It’s on-line. The schedule calls for evening airing of debates taped earlier in the day Oct. 13-17.

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Offices to be covered: U.S. Senate, the four congressional races, governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state. I’m disappointed to learn that treasurer (Milligan v. Garcia mentioned earlier); auditor and land commissioner (a three-way race including Elvis Presley) will not be covered. I don’t joke. These offices run on lightly financed campaigns and get virtually no exposure. They deserve more attention.

But here’s the interesting thing: Producer Tanisha Joe tells me commitments are still lacking from four candidates, all Republicans:

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Senate: Tom Cotton
1st District Congress: Incumbent Rep. Rick Crawford
2nd District Congress: J. French Hill
Secretary of State: Mark Martin

Interesting. Tom Cotton supposedly wants a lot of debates. As I mentioned, this is a good chance for him to bring up foreign policy.

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Rick Crawford faces his chief challenge from Democrat Jackie McPherson, mayor of Heber Springs. Perhaps he thinks giving face time to a lesser-known challenger would elevate the challenger.

French Hill, the millionaire Little Rock banker, hopes to win the seat being vacated by Tim Griffin. He faces a stiff challenge from Democrat Pat Hays. Maybe he won’t come unless they let him drive his old Volvo into the studio.

Incumbent Mark Martin? He’s, well, weird.  He makes virtually no public appearances. He doesn’t talk to the press. He has the solid-gold name of a famous race car driver and is a Republican, a reflexive Arkansas vote these days. My guess is he’ll dodge an appearance with Susan Inman, the immensely qualified Democratic candidate, who  is also immensely likeable. He would not fare well on TV against her.

I’ve sent notes to all four no-shows on whether they intend to participate and, if not, why not. But people who’ve not responded to AETN probably won’t be burning up my phone line.

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UPDATE: Spoke too soon …. From David Ray on behalf of Tom Cotton:

As I’ve told many people, we are still waiting for the details of that debate to be finalized. For instance, AETN has not informed us of who the panelists are who will be asking the questions. Once we have all the details, we will make a determination.