Second District Congressman Tim Griffin, a Republican, unexpectedly announced Monday that he’ll not run for re-election in 2014.
Griffin, with no announced opponents, had been campaigning in the days just before the announcement and has more than $500,000 in campaign funds for his re-election bid.
Griffin said in a distributed statement Monday that his retirement is the best move for his family, which includes two young children.
Griffin said for several months, he and his wife, Elizabeth, have been discussing whether he should seek a third term in Congress.
"It has been an agonizing and difficult decision involving much prayer, thought and discussion," Griffin’s statement reads. "We have decided that now is the time for me to focus intently on my top priority, my family, as Elizabeth and I raise our two young children."
Griffin will complete his second term for the U. S. House of Representatives.
He says he has made no decision for what he’ll do after this term, but that he’ll "continue in public service."
Griffin told the Associated Press he’s not done with politics.
"I will stay engaged and I’m very interesting in serving in elected office again," Griffin told the AP.
Monday’s announcement was a surprise to Democrats in Faulkner County as well as to Tea Party members who favored Griffin.
Tea Party spokeswoman Janet Crow said she and other members have appreciated Griffin’s conservative leadership, and the announcement "makes for interesting politics in Arkansas."
Crow remarked on the speculations that flooded Twitter after news of Griffin’s retirement spread.
"I think the Democrats are pretty excited today," Crow said Monday. "He would have been a formidable candidate for any Democrat. If there was a Democrat that would get out there and run, I’m sure they know it would have been a difficult race."
Faulkner County Democratic chair Chris McDonald said the race for District 2 is "wide open."
"It is a very interesting development in the race for District 2. Congressman Griffin’s decision does not change our plan, though. We have planned from the start to put the best candidate out there that understands the needs of the people of District 2, and we will do everything we can do to get that person elected," McDonald said.
McDonald said Democrats have a candidate in mind, but he could not yet go public with the name.
Mid-day Monday a state news site said former Little Rock mayor Patrick Henry Hays would announce his bid for District 2, which includes Faulkner and Pulaski counties, on Tuesday.
The former mayor, who has been outspoken with other Democrats against Griffin in the past, is set to announce at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Patrick Henry Hays Senior Citizens Center, according to the center’s office manager.
Other candidates whose names entered speculation on the Democrat side were former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and former State Rep. Linda Tyler.
Republicans considering a run include state Sen. Jason Rapert.
"Many conservative Republicans are evaluating their possible candidacy, we are confident that the people of the 2nd District will elect another strong representative to fill the big shoes of Congressman Griffin," state GOP chairman Doyle Webb said in a statement.
Local Republican chair John Nabholz said he personally feels Griffin leaving is a "huge loss for Arkansas."
"Like all Arkansans who are concerned about jobs and long term economic stability for future generations we are sad to hear that Tim Griffin will be retiring from his influential position on the House Committee on Ways and Means, but understand that for each and every one of us, our families must come first," Nabholz said.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)