State Sen. Jon Woods, a Republican from Springdale, announced this morning on Facebook he won’t be seeking another term in office.
Some had noted that Woods had delayed filing for reelection — the deadline to file for 2016 is this Monday — but he’d made no public statement indicating he was considering bowing out until today. He had, however attracted a primary opponent in Washington County JP Sharon Lloyd.
Woods gave no reason for his decision, other than to say that “after serving ten years in the state legislature, I have decided that I am satisfied with my accomplishments and that it is time to start a new chapter in my life.”
The decision follows a fund-raiser for Woods Oct. 20 at which Gov. Asa Hutchinson was the headlined guest.
Recently, Woods had come under fire from Conduit for Action, a dark money group with Tea Party leanings that played an influential role in some legislative primaries in 2014. Conduit criticized Woods for championing supposed “ethics reforms” that have had the overall effect of enriching legislators, eroding term limits and sharply limiting the ability of the Ethics Commission to enforce laws meant to prevent lobbyists providing meals and gifts to lawmakers. Conduit seemed likely to back Sharon Lloyd in her primary bid against Woods.
In his statement, Woods said he planned on Monday to support state Rep. Lance Eads for Senate District 7, should Eads decide to run for that seat. Eads is a freshman representative from District 88, also in Springdale. He is also an employee of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce, for whom Woods regularly carried baggage, particularly a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize taxpayer subsidies of chambers of commerce. Springdale has long enjoyed such a subsidy, but they’ve been struck down as unconstitutional in a case involving Little Rock and North Little Rock chambers. Woods said he planned to endorse Clint Penzo, a Fayetteville realtor, for Eads’ seat — should Penzo run. Neither man has filed, but again, the deadline is Monday.
UPDATE: He told Doug Thompson at the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette he just wanted to get back home.
Yes, it IS strange that Woods — essentially a full-time legislator who also claims income from unspecified consulting — would drop out of the race at this point. I suspect there is more to come by way of explanation than a mere decision that the time suddenly seemed right. Also, his decision had been expected by other Republicans. A high Republican indicated to me Friday that a candidate would be ready to file for the seat Monday, a candidate more in line with establishment. That would be Eads, who — conveniently — had not yet filed for re-election to his House seat.
In his last campaign report, Woods reported having raised almost $50,000, with $32,000 on hand. Note relative to the “ethics amendment” he crafted that outlawed corporate contributions. Of the $23,000 he raised in the last report, $16,800 came from corporate PACs. PAC contributions remain legal.
Here’s Woods’ full statement:
To all my friends, family, constituents and colleagues:
I have thought long and hard since the session ended in April on whether or not I would file for a second term in the Arkansas Senate. After serving ten years in the state legislature, I have decided that I am satisfied with my accomplishments and that it is time to start a new chapter in my life. After five sessions, 60+ bills that are now law, three constitutional amendments, dozens of new friends, and a better understanding of state government, I am at peace with this decision. I plan to serve out my term through 2016 and remain engaged with the community.
My intention was to announce this decision earlier but constituent obligations, being under the weather, and tremendous pressure to remain in the race delayed my action.
I would like to thank Allen and former Rep. Ann Bush of Blytheville for getting me involved in the Boy Scouts and teaching me the value of community service and former Rep. Jonathan Barnett for selecting me to attend Boys State when I was a student at Siloam Springs High School. I would also like to thank Keith Emis, Duncan Baird, Daniel Schroeder, and Robert Martin for getting me involved in politics by encouraging me to serve as the College Republican Chair at the University of Arkansas. And most of all, thank you to everyone in Tontitown, Johnson, Springdale, Goshen, Durham, and Elkins for allowing me to represent you over the years. Serving you has been an honor and a privilege and I am grateful for the experience.
I plan to be in Little Rock on Monday to show my support for Rep. Lance Eads for Senate District 7 and Clint Penzo for State Rep. District 88. These two men will do a great job, should they decide to file.
Again, thanks to all of you who have been so supportive of me over the years. Without Christina, family and friends inside and outside the Capitol, and amazing staff, I don’t know how I could have made it this long in the world of politics.
I look forward to getting caught up on conversations with you all in the very near future.