U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin,
a Little Rock Republican, will not be seeking re-election in 2014.
Roby Brock at Talk Business had it firs
t. I won't be expecting a shared copy of the news release, given Griffin's no-contact rule with the Arkansas Times.
He released a statement, citing his young family:
“Serving the people of the Second Congressional District is an honor, and I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given by my fellow Arkansans. To those who have prayed for and supported me and my family, thank you–thank you for your kindness, commitment, time, trust and understanding.
God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, Elizabeth, and two precious children, and for several months Elizabeth and I have been discussing whether to seek a third term in Congress, especially considering the formative ages of Mary Katherine and John. It has been an agonizing and difficult decision involving much prayer, thought and discussion. We have decided that now is the time for me to focus intently on my top priority, my family, as Elizabeth and I raise our two young children.
To that end, I will not seek reelection to a third term. I will complete my second term, but I have made no decision as to my plans after Congress except that I will continue in public service, including as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.
In September 2009, I launched my campaign for Congress as a common sense conservative and have kept my word by supporting bold but pragmatic solutions to address our most pressing problems, including a balanced budget, Medicare reform, repeal of Obamacare, tax reform, and regulatory reform. I am proud that the House’s efforts resulted in the Budget Control Act (BCA), the largest spending reduction in American history. I am equally proud that the House has stopped numerous harmful proposals. I choose to be a citizen-legislator rather than a career politician, and I will continue to do my best representing my fellow Arkansans through the remainder of my term.
I believe 2014 will be another historic year for conservatives in Arkansas, and I stand ready to help with that effort and make sure a conservative wins the 2nd Congressional District. Several Democrats have reportedly been looking at running for this seat. As a result, it is imperative that I make and announce my decision now not to seek a third term so that Republican candidates who wish to succeed me will be able to prepare their campaigns and compete on an equal playing field with the Democrats.
May God continue to bless Arkansas and the United States of America.”
For some time now, many have said a 2014 election would be his last, for the family pressures Griffin cited and that he'd turn to a profitable government consulting career, something he did a bit of before running for Congress. If close friends had an inkling, they didn't let on, judging by interviews Leslie Peacock did this week while working on a profile. He's been campaigning hard at public events, including recent football games. Email money solicitations have been frequent.
A supporter a little miffed at Griffin's withdrawal — and the potential it creates for a Democratic victory — noted that Griffin had two children when he ran for his first of two terms in Congress.
Believe them or not, but Democratic Party polling numbers showed terrible numbers for Tim Griffin — actually trailing Hays in polling done in the middle of the shutdown crisis. Griffin solidly identified himself with the anarchists by signing a letter that threatened shutdown if Obamacare wasn't repealed. He insisted he thought a shutdown was a bad idea, but the signature on the letter by some of the most extreme House members was indelible. For all that, I liked his re-election chances. Suburban counties are trending strongly Republican. And I've never seen a more disciplined and determined candidate who tirelessly repeated his honed, compact and punchy (if often disingenuous) messaging. Still, he got only 55 percent of the vote in 2012 against a nominal Democratic campaign by a candidate arrested for DWI and third party candidates.
Well. Good news for Pat Hays,
the former North Little Rock mayor, who's been widely reported to be planning a race. Griffin's decision could alter everything on that side as well, however. I'm thinking particularly of Linda
Tyler, the former state representative, and Conway Mayor Tab Townsel
l, both mentioned as potential candidates for a time.
UPDATE: A reliable source said Hays will announce tomorrow. He's been recruited by his friend, Democratic Party Chair Vince Insalaco,
so the thinking is that the party won't be encouraging others to enter the race. (Not that the party can dicate, of course.)
UPDATE II: But suddenly, a Bill Halter
sighting after months of seclusion in the form of a statment from his former campaign spokesman Bud Jackson:
Bill would be the strongest Democratic candidate for this district and he would help energize base voters there for statewide Democratic candidates. That's why his phone has been ringing off the hook with people encouraging him to run since Griffin's announcement. I would expect that encouragement to intensify.
I don't think Bill Halter can beat Pat Hays in the 2nd District, where Blanche Lincoln
carried the Democratic Senate primary against him by a big margin.
There are many likely. Sen. David Sanders
has long been mentioned as a contender. Also Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson,
but he's so scarred by scandal that you'd think his time is past. What about French Hill,
the Little Rock banker (and ninth generation Arkansan)? Maybe he'd switch from a state House race to the Big House. Former legislator Ed Garner
of Maumelle might bring his Tea Party flavor to the race. Throw in names of Saline County Judge Lanny Fite
, Sen. Jonathan Dismang
and Rep. Allen Kerr
for short-term speculation purposes.
Catch Griffin on Alice Stewart's radio show
. He said running again amounted to a three-year commitment. It's a grueling life of campaigning, fund-raising and traveling back and forth to Washington. He said he wanted to give others time to prepare against a potential money and organizational advantage for Democrats. With "rumbling" about Democratic candidates, he said he and his wife had decided, "We better get out of the way." He said he was confident the district would vote conservative and punched opponents mentioned already as reliable Obama supporters. Always on message, as I say. He said was not looking to other elective office.
Griffin posted the news on his Twitter account.
The Democratic Party got its lick in with a statement from Party Chair Insalaco:
“You can’t shut down the government for 16 days and hurt the pocketbooks of Arkansas families without taking responsibility for your actions and that is exactly what a small group of reckless House members have done including Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford, and Tom Cotton. It is no surprise that Tim Griffin saw the writing on the wall and figured out that Arkansans were going to hold him accountable for the dysfunction in Washington. Arkansans in his district were the ones getting the short end of the stick– from those suffering from the Mayflower oil spill to military personnel who were laid off in Jacksonville. People are tired and fed up with politics as usual, and politicians like Tim Griffin have been obstructing solutions and are part of the problem with Washington.”