Democrats Aggressively Recruiting For Griffin’s Arkansas Seat

The Little Rock district favors Republicans, but Democrats think they can recruit a credible candidate.

Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sarah Mimms
Oct. 21, 2013, 9:01 a.m.

Arkan­sas GOP Rep. Tim Griffin sur­prised Re­pub­lic­ans by an­noun­cing that he’ll re­tire in 2014 after just two terms in of­fice, giv­ing na­tion­al Demo­crats hope that they’ll be able to con­test a seat in an in­creas­ingly Re­pub­lic­an state.

Griffin was widely as­sumed to be seek­ing reelec­tion, and had raised more than $200,000 in each of the last two fun­drais­ing quar­ters. He passed up a Sen­ate cam­paign in or­der to re­main on the in­flu­en­tial House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee earli­er this year.

Both parties have a deep bench of can­did­ates look­ing to suc­ceed Griffin. For Re­pub­lic­ans, state Sen. Dav­id Sanders and French Hill, the founder, chair­man and CEO of Delta Trust & Bank­ing Corp., are both con­sidered po­ten­tial can­did­ates, ac­cord­ing to a na­tion­al GOP op­er­at­ive.

Na­tion­al Demo­crats had already trained re­sources in­to Arkan­sas, hop­ing to re­cruit a cred­ible chal­lenger against Griffin. Party op­er­at­ives noted that it is the most com­pet­it­ive dis­trict in the state, with Mitt Rom­ney win­ning 55 per­cent of the vote there. And they thought Griffin’s sup­port for the oil in­dustry could be­come a vul­ner­ab­il­ity giv­en a ma­jor oil spill with­in the dis­trict this year.

Demo­crats are pro­mot­ing former North Little Rock May­or Patrick Henry Hays, who was sched­uled to an­nounce his can­did­acy for the Second Dis­trict seat on Tues­day even be­fore Griffin made his plans known, ac­cord­ing to a Demo­crat­ic op­er­at­ive. To wit, his web­site ( Patrick­Henry­Hays.com), which was act­ive as re­cently as two weeks ago, now ap­pears to be un­der con­struc­tion.

Hays served for six terms as may­or, where he re­vital­ized the small town north of a ma­jor Demo­crat­ic en­clave. He re­tired last year at age 65. Should he jump in­to the race to­mor­row, he’d have a head-start on the rest of the field, still reel­ing from Griffin’s un­ex­pec­ted an­nounce­ment.

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Hal­ter was ini­tially the party fa­vor­ite for the seat. Na­tion­al and state Demo­crats pushed Hal­ter early on to drop out of the gubernat­ori­al race — which he did, in Ju­ly — in or­der to chal­lenge Griffin. But Hal­ter struggled to raise money in the gubernat­ori­al race and has been si­lent about the House race in re­cent months, an in­dic­a­tion his in­terests may lie else­where. He’s also an out­spoken pro­gress­ive, and could have trouble win­ning over more con­ser­vat­ive voters ne­ces­sary to win a GOP-lean­ing House dis­trict.

Oth­er po­ten­tial Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates in­clude Con­way May­or Tab Town­sell, former state Rep. Linda Tyler and Little Rock School Board Pres­id­ent Di­anne Curry, who dropped a bid for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor earli­er this year and said in Ju­ly that she had spoken to EMILY’s List about run­ning for Griffin’s seat.

What We're Following See More »
WITH LIVE BLOGGING
Trump Deposition Video Is Online
2 hours ago
STAFF PICKS

The video of Donald Trump's deposition in his case against restaurateur Jeffrey Zakarian is now live. Slate's Jim Newell and Josh Voorhees are live-blogging it while they watch.

Source:
SOUND LEVEL AFFECTED
Debate Commission Admits Issues with Trump’s Mic
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.

Source:
TRUMP VS. CHEFS
Trump Deposition Video to Be Released
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."

Source:
A CANDIDATE TO BE ‘PROUD’ OF
Chicago Tribune Endorses Gary Johnson
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."

FUNERAL FOR ISRAELI LEADER
Obama Compares Peres to ‘Giants of the 20th Century’
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Speaking at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, President Obama "compared Peres to 'other giants of the 20th century' such as Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth who 'find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment.'" Among the 6,000 mourners at the service was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama called Abbas's presence a sign of the "unfinished business of peace" in the region.

Source:
×