I wrote Sunday that it was definitive that Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin would enter the lieutenant governor’s race. The tipoff was his Sunday radio show on The Buzz with sidekick Bill Vickery, plus later confirmation from a couple of people who’d spoken with Griffin.
The announcement was to be today. But lightly regarded Republican Rep. Debra Hobbs made the mistake of making it known she planned to announce Wednesday a switch from the governor’s race to the lieutenant governor’s race.
Griffin rushed to talk about his candidacy with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which elevated the machinations for a largely meaningless office to a page-one-story — mostly about Griffin. That trampled political figure you see in the account is Debra Hobbs, her big day but a footnote. Griffin is a pro politico, make no mistake.
Griffin has posted his campaign announcement on Facebook. He’s all about jobs, just like everybody whoever ran for this meaningless post. At least he said he’d cut the staff from four to two. That’s about right. Zero would be about right for the current staff of an office occupied by no one.
Griffin is an extreme right-winger just like the rest of the Republican primary field, but he’s managed to outflank at least one of them. Rep. Andy Mayberry, who’s staying in the race, voted for the private option expansion of Medicaid. Griffin says he opposes it. That won’t hurt him in the primary. He left a tiny bit of wiggle room to moderate himself come general election time. Hobbs is an opponent of the private option, too. Rep. Charlie Collins, who’d been in the race, supported it, but he’ll drop out now that bigfoot Griffin, with his ability to tap wealthy special interests for all the money he needs, is in the race. Democrat John Burkhalter supports the private option.
Note: Griffin dodged questions from the D-G about his post-Congress private sector work. It’s a big issue. He’s going to be a quasi-lobbyist in what political gunslingers like Griffin call public affairs consulting. Helping extraction industries build pipelines and pollute water and helping other politicos with dirty tricks against opponents, such as voter caging, are the kinds of jobs people like Griffin do for big bucks. Inevitably, his clients will have interests that parallel Arkansas legislative and regulatory matters. It will present an awkward appearance, to whatever limited extent Griffin is unable to keep his paymasters secret.
PS — The Arkansas Democratic Party blows a raspberry at Tiny Tim:
“Rep. Griffin’s entry into the Lieutenant Governor’s race makes the choice clear for Arkansans: Griffin brings the dysfunctional politics of Washington to Arkansas while John Burkhalter will use his real world experience creating jobs to do just that for our state.
The real question is which one of his partisan Washington ideas does Tim Griffin plan on bringing to Arkansas? He voted to put thousands of Arkansans out of work by shutting down the government and voted yesterday against the debt ceiling, favoring default that would throw our economy back into a recession. Arkansans want more jobs, not more Washington-style politics, and as an entrepreneur and small business owner, John Burkhalter knows how to create jobs in our state.”