LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said Monday he’s seeking re-election in two years, becoming the second statewide official to launch a campaign for the 2018 election.
The Republican ex-congressman, who was first elected in 2014, said he was announcing early partly because he’s regularly asked about his future plans but also to give himself more time to organize his re-election campaign.
"The later you start, the more you have to do in terms of organizing in a compressed time," Griffin told The Associated Press. "I think it is better to express your intentions early and that way you can over time build your organization that’s necessary to have that campaign."
Griffin also dismissed speculation that he had been mulling a primary challenge to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, saying he hadn’t been looking at any other campaigns. Hutchinson is widely expected to seek re-election, but hasn’t announced his plans. Griffin said he started raising money in the last week for his re-election bid.
"My plan all along has been to run for re-election as lieutenant governor," Griffin said.
The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and casts a rarely needed tie-breaking vote in the 35-member chamber. He also acts as governor when the governor is out of state or unable to serve.
Griffin last year chaired a task force formed by Hutchinson to review the Common Core standards that have come under fire from some conservatives. The panel called on the state to keep Common Core but conduct a broader look at where to change and replace the standards. He also reviewed the state Department of Human Services at Hutchinson’s request earlier this year and called for an overhaul of the agency to better serve clients.
"My priorities have been and will continue to be growing jobs especially through reforming government and improving education and caring for fellow veterans," Griffin said in a news release.
He also touted his push to cut his office’s budget by 15 percent for the year. Griffin said he’ll continue pushing for a tax break for military veterans, a proposal that didn’t advance in the Legislature last year.
Griffin has backed a measure lawmakers put on the November ballot to allow the governor to retain his powers he’s out of state will be on the November ballot. Griffin last year advocated more far-reaching measure that didn’t advance in the Legislature that would have the lieutenant governor appear as the governor’s running mate on the ballot rather than as a separately elected position.
Griffin, 47, had served two terms as the congressman for central Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District before he was elected to the state’s No. 2 spot. So far, no other candidates have announced a bid to challenge him in the primary or the general election in 2018.
Land Commissioner John Thurston last month announced he would seek the Republican nomination for secretary of state. Deputy Secretary of State Joseph Wood has also said he’s running for the Republican nomination.