Posted 10/21/2013 11:09 am
Updated 6 months ago
LITTLE ROCK - Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin made the unexpected announcement Monday that he won't run for a third term representing central Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Griffin's decision throws uncertainty into an election where Republicans had hoped to build upon recent gains in Arkansas. The GOP holds all four of the state's U.S. House seats, both chambers of the state Legislature and one of its two U.S. Senate seats.
"It has been an agonizing and difficult decision involving much prayer, thought and discussion," Griffin said in a statement. "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."
Griffin had no announced opponents and has more than a half-million dollars in the bank for the re-election bid. He easily won re-election in 2012. Griffin, who said he had been weighing the decision over the past eight months, said he's not ruling out another run for office.
"I'm not done with politics. I think politics is a worthy enterprise," Griffin told The Associated Press. "I will stay engaged and I'm very interested in serving in elected office again."
Griffin was named to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee in November, becoming the first Republican from Arkansas to serve on the tax-writing panel. At the time, Griffin said he wouldn't run for Arkansas governor or the U.S. Senate because of the appointment.
Griffin is a former interim U.S. attorney who's also worked in the White House Office of Political Affairs.
The announcement leaves two open seats in the U.S. House next year in Arkansas. The 4th congressional district is open after Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton entered the race against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor. National and state Republicans have named unseating Pryor a top priority next year.
Republicans considering a run include state Sen. Jason Rapert, who said he hoped to decide in the coming days whether to seek Griffin's seat.
"Many conservative Republicans are evaluating their possible candidacy, we are confident that the people of the 2nd District will elect another strong representative to fill the big shoes of Congressman Griffin," state GOP chairman Doyle Webb said in a statement.
Several Democrats had been mentioned as potential challengers to Griffin, including former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays and former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Former state Rep. Linda Tyler of Conway said she was also weighing a bid.
Top Democrats have been encouraging Halter to seek the 2nd congressional district seat after he dropped his bid for governor in July, but a spokesman declined to say whether he was considering it.
"Bill would be the strongest Democrat to run for that seat," Halter spokesman Bud Jackson said.
Griffin's announcement comes less than a week after he voted for legislation to raise the nation's borrowing limit and re-open the federal government after it had been shuttered since Oct. 1. Griffin had previously backed efforts to link spending bills to de-funding or scaling back the federal health care law, which led to the standoff over the budget.
Griffin said his decision had nothing to do with that vote, and said he believed he was well poised to win re-election next year.
"I've seen the names of the people who have looked at running for this district on the Democrat side all of them are lockstep with President Obama and I don't see how they could win this seat against me or anyone else," Griffin told the AP.
Griffin was elected to the 2nd District in 2010, winning a long-held Democratic seat.
He was named interim U.S. attorney for eastern Arkansas in 2006 after Bud Cummins left the post. Cummins later said he was forced out by the U.S. Department of Justice, and his firing was one of several that prompted a congressional inquiry. Griffin resigned the post after six months.
Griffin's Complete Statement
"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."
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.)