Four months after declaring he would not seek a third term in Congress, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, said he will run for Arkansas Lt. Governor, joining a crowded field of Republican candidates.
Griffin, who was first elected to Congress in 2010 and serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, said last October that he had “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.”
Last week, Griffin confirmed that he had been approached about running for the Lt. Governor’s post and on Thursday (Feb. 13), he confirmed the decision to run.
“Last year, I announced my decision not to seek re-election to Congress when my term ends. The decision to leave Congress and return home was an agonizing decision but the right one for my young family. Since that announcement, I have been urged to continue public service, and I am humbled and honored at the encouragement I have received from all over our wonderful State. After much prayer, thought and discussion with my wife and family, I have decided to seek the office of Lieutenant Governor which will allow me to continue serving Arkansans as a problem solver and watch my 3-year old and 6-year old grow up at our home in Arkansas,” said Griffin.
The official news was first reported in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
“As Lieutenant Governor, one, I will work to restore trust by reforming the office and saving hardworking taxpayer dollars. Two, I will use my experience, knowledge and relationships to help Arkansas compete and grow jobs. And three, I will serve as a resource for the Governor and Legislature to help move Arkansas forward,” he said.
On Wednesday, Rep. Debra Hobbs, R-Rogers, said she too would run for Lt. Governor, pivoting out of the Governor’s race to which she previously had committed. Reps. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, and Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, have also stated their intentions to run for Lt. Governor, although Collins has said he may re-evalute his decision.
A spokesman for businessman John Burkhalter, the only declared Democrat to announce for the Lt. Governor’s post, issued a statement regarding Griffin’s entry that suggested a general election campaign had already begun.
“While Congressman Griffin is simply looking for his next job in politics, Arkansans are looking for good-paying jobs, the best possible education for our children and workforce, and lower taxes on our families,” said Burkhalter spokesman Bryan Griffith. “The last thing Arkansas needs is another Washington politician like Tim Griffin bringing his record of divisive politics, dysfunction, and gridlock to Arkansas. As a successful entrepreneur and small business owner, John Burkhalter has spent his career creating jobs and businesses, giving back to his state, and working to build a brighter future for all Arkansans. John is the type of positive, forward-thinking and commonsense leader Arkansas needs as Lieutenant Governor.”
Griffin’s entry in the GOP field establishes him as a frontrunner for his party’s nomination. Griffin brings name identification and a healthy donor list to a race that typically struggles to raise funds.
The Lt. Governor’s office is a part-time job. The position presides over the Arkansas State Senate when the General Assembly is in session and serves as acting Governor should the Governor be incapacitated or leave the state.
The state’s previous Lt. Governor, Republican Mark Darr, resigned in January after an ethics controversy that resulted in a $11,000 fine being levied against him. Darr was pressured to resign from the office or face possible impeachment during the current legislative fiscal session.
Griffin said he would reduce the staff of the office and not ask for Arkansas State Police transportation, which is allowed under state law. He said he would also use his “experience, knowledge and relationships” to help with job creation and in navigating the federal government.
He said Lisenne Rockefeller, wife of former Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller, would serve as his campaign chair.