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
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 »
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.

Source:
×