One day after U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, announced he wouldn’t seek a third term for U.S. Congress in Arkansas’ 2nd District, Democrat Pat Hays declared he would run for the open seat.
Hays, a former legislator who served 24 years as North Little Rock Mayor, said the federal government shutdown earlier this month led to his decision to enter the race.
“The foundation of the frustration for not only me, but the American people and those in the Second District, spoke loudly,” Hays said in an interview with a Little Rock television reporter.
Hays launched his campaign bid outside of the Patrick Henry Hays Senior Center in North Little Rock, one of the many projects he touted as “problem-solving” during his two-and-a-half decades of public service as mayor.
“What we do at city hall, we solve problems,” Hays told campaign supporters at Tuesday’s announcement. “We’re going to carry problem-solving ideas, we going to carry local government solutions and we’re going to carry a brighter future for the U.S. Congress and the Second District, and that’s why we’re declaring that we’re a candidate and we’re going to take these issues forward.”
Hays was at the helm as North Little Rock mayor during an unprecedented rejuvenation of the city’s downtown Argenta and riverfront areas. He was also mayor during the construction of Verizon Arena, the Dickey Stephens baseball park, and he helped lure a major Caterpillar factory to the city.
Prior to his election as Mayor, Hays served as an Assistant City Attorney for North Little Rock. A lawyer by profession, he was elected State Representative for District 66 and served in the 76th Arkansas General Assembly.
A native of North Little Rock, Hays graduated from North Little Rock High School and earned his undergraduate and law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He earned the rank of captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.
He has been married to Linda Hays, a retired school teacher, for over 30 years. Their daughter Josie and son-in-law, Dr. Brent Staggs, have three grandchildren – Savannah, Isabella and Harper.
Doyle Webb, chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas, wasted little time criticizing the new Democratic candidate.
“Patrick Hays thought it was a good idea to support President Obama’s $800 billion failed stimulus package, even as our nation was facing $17 trillion in debt. Arkansas can’t afford Patrick Hays and his tax-and-spend liberal policies. Hays in Washington will be another vote backing President Obama and Nancy Pelosi every step of the way,” Webb said in a press release on Tuesday.
While Hays is the only Democrat to announce for the race, a number of potential candidates are still rumored to be eyeing entry.
On the Democratic side, former Lt. Governor Bill Halter, former State Rep. Linda Tyler of Conway, and Delta Regional Authority director Chris Masingill are considering runs, according to Talk Business sources.
Potential Republican candidates include State Sen. Jonathan Dismang, State Rep. Ann Clemmer, Delta Trust and Bank CEO French Hill, and Stuart Jones, a consultant with Ernst & Young who is currently living out of state.