I listened to the Tim Griffin Radio Show on the Buzz this morning while driving to the grocery store. (It’s nominally known as the Bill Vickery Show, but serves primarily as a promotional vehicle for Griffin.)
Griffin said he’ll have an announcement by early in the week on his decision on entering the race for lieutenant governor. Since I won’t be getting his news release, I’ll say now: Book it. Oh, he still has to talk further with his wife, but the talking points are already too well developed to suggest anything but a “yes” is coming, even though he’d repeatedly told some reporters earlier he had no such plans. The Vickery show appearance was part of the rollout.
The congressman, who’s not seeking re-election because of family reasons (and also, I believe, the desire to increase his earnings), already has down the talking points. He’s wrapped himself in the name of the late Win Paul Rockefeller, who died toward the end of his one term in the office.
Says Griffin: He’ll be like Rockefeller, the kind of guy with connections who can get stuff done for Arkansas. No disrespect to Rockefeller, but I don’t think his connections produced, as an elected official, any gains for Arkansas that are measurable. (Backed by his family’s wealth, he was a successful business owner.) Nor will Griffin. Nor will John Burkhalter, the successful businessman who’s announced as a Democrat, if he wins and sets out on his announced economic development agenda. Corporate interests don’t come to your state because they like the guy who holds an office utterly without clout or meaning in law or constitution. Winston Bryant practiced law and devoted some do-good efforts to a teen suicide prevention task force, which took its message to high school kids and if it comforted a single child (which it certainly did) did more tangible good than any lieutenant governor has done in 50 years as an economic development standard-bearer.
Griffin wants to have a handy local platform to knock down $42,000 plus some occasional expenses while he resumes his past work as a — well, what? He’s running for governor sooner or later.
Griffin won’t be practicing law, the sort where you charge an hourly rate for actual toil. He’ll be politically connected, traveling the country and world for high fees from well-connected Republicans and special corporate interests, as when he worked with big polluters in the extraction industry in Alaska.
Will Griffin register as a lobbyist? Probably not. But the work he’ll do will likely have a similar aroma. He’ll be a politically connected fixer. Will he fully disclose who he works for and on what? The current Arkansas ethics laws won’t require it. So there’ll be that when Griffin gets into the race.
The thinking is that Griffin will scare state Rep. Charlie Collins out of the Republican primary race. He has higher name recognition, he’s tightly aligned with the Stephens empire, so money will flow like water. He’s a political hatchet man, honed in the oppo research, attack advertising and voter caging of Karl Rove and Co. John Burkhalter, who has a trail like any big businessman, can expect nuclear attacks from Tiny Tim if they find themselves as general election opponents.
It might be funny if Rep. Andy Mayberry, with a devoted anti-abortion base, could upset Griffin in the sometimes wacky world of Republican primary politics. (CORRECTION: I erroneously placed Mayberry in the anti-private option camp in my original post. He voted for it and plans to do so again.)
This is also good time to be the first to ask Tim Griffin — and again ask Asa Hutchinson — where do YOU stand on the private option expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare?