Former North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays has a news conference at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Hays Senior Center in North Little Rock. He will announce his candidacy for 2nd District Congress, the first Democrat in the race. He starts with a reminder of what he’s done for older voters.
Hays set the time before U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin’s surprise announcement this morning that he would not be seeking re-election. A friend tells me Hays sent his campaign papers to Washington last week. That fits with word I got last week that he was committed to the race.
Democratic Party polling shows Hays with a high name ID throughout the district and favorable numbers in a matchup with Tim Griffin. That should mean even better numbers with whatever new Republican face emerges at this point.
Rumors abound that Tim Griffin got poll results of his own over the weekend. They haven’t been shared. But nationally, Republican congressmen have suffered from the shutdown/default debacle. Until today, Griffin had been running hard for re-election and had a campaign kitty of $500,000 or so.
Hays’ entry doesn’t mean other Democrats won’t enter the primary. But his speedy announcement gives him a bit of the jump on the rest.
Look for James Lee Witt to announce his Democratic candidacy in the 4th District next week. Two strong congressional candidates, a well-financed candidate for governor (Mike Ross) and a huge GOTV machine for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor is a good place to start for Democrats in 2014, as I mentioned in a column this week.
Note that neither Hays nor Witt have partisan elected jobs to mine for attack ads. (Well, Hays was in legislature decades ago, as something of a reformer.) The records they’ve compiled speak to accomplishment and competence. Neither could be classed, either, as the sort of “elitist” that Repubs love to run against.
Meanwhile, responses are trickling in to some questions I’ve sent around to others on whether they should be added to the speculative list.
Republican Lanny Fite, the Saline County judge: “Need time to consider.”
Republican Sen. Jonathan Dismang: “This is a capacity that I would be honored to serve, but there are a lot of conversations, most importantly those at home, that need to occur before I have an answer.”
Republican Sen. David Sanders:” It’s nice to be mentioned, but my place is here with my wife, children and, as long as the voters will keep me in there, my colleagues in the Senate.”
Republican Sen. Jason Rapert: He tells Stephens Media he’s “weighing the situation” with family. Funny. I presume God would have been on the horn by now.
Republican French Hill, Little Rock banker: He, too, is considering it, rather than race for state House of Representatives he’d planned.
On the jump: See Pat Hay’s prepared resume — balanced budgets, built a city, Army Reserve captain and “proud member” of NRA:
Patrick Henry Hays, the former Mayor of North Little Rock, is a proven problem solver known throughout Arkansas for his track record of working with Republicans and Democrats to deliver results for businesses, neighborhoods and families. As Mayor Hays says – “there’s no such thing as Republican crime or Democratic garbage,” and it’s exactly these true Arkansas values that are missing from Congress and that Mayor Hays is fighting to bring back to Washington.
During his six terms as Mayor – the longest tenure in the city’s history – Patrick Henry Hays’ fiscal responsibility and commitment to strong city finances transformed North Little Rock into an engine of economic growth for the state and point of pride for the community. While Congress was recklessly spending tax dollars in Washington, Mayor Hays’ accomplishments in North Little Rock include balancing 24 budgets, slashing the city’s debt, reducing the cost of water and electricity and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars by cutting waste and doing more with less, all while delivering quality, cost effective services for residents – from putting more police officers on the streets, to picking up the leaves.
These achievements enhanced the quality of life for Arkansans and created an environment that attracted investment and helped businesses create the next generations of good paying jobs. By making smart investments and refusing to let politics stand in the way of solving problems, Mayor Hays helped champion the construction of the Verizon Arena, the Dickey Stephens ballpark, and the location of a Caterpillar Factory to North Little Rock – bringing hundreds of job and millions of dollars to the community, attracting tourism and revitalizing the downtown and the River Walk neighborhoods — even in the midst of a recession as other cities struggled to stay afloat.
One of Mayor Hays’ proudest accomplishments is the completion of the Patrick Henry Hays Senior Citizens Center – a state of the art facility that offers North Little Rock seniors a place of their own, providing quality services ranging from healthcare, to meal programs, to social activities to over 700 seniors a day.
Mayor Hays earned the rank of captain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Prior to his election as Mayor, Hays served as an Assistant City Attorney for North Little Rock. He was elected State Representative for District 66 and served in the 76th Arkansas General Assembly. A native of North Little Rock, Mayor Hays graduated from North Little Rock High School and earned his undergraduate and law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. A firearm owner and duck hunter, Hays is a proud member of the National Rifle Association.
He has been married to Linda Hays for over 30 years. Linda, a retired elementary school teacher, taught school for over 35 years. They attend Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock, and are members of the Fraser Sunday School Class. Their daughter Josie and son-in-law Dr. Brent Staggs have three grandchildren – Savannah, Isabella and Harper — and Mayor Hay’s three grandchildren serve as a deep source of inspiration for his campaign to return problem solving values back to Washington so that future generations can achieve the promise of America’s opportunity.