The rumor circulated here Saturday was correct: Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin is quitting a race for governor.
His announcement early today:
Lt. Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement announcing his campaign for attorney general:
“Since announcing my campaign for governor last year, I’ve been overwhelmed by the incredible support I have received from all corners of the state. While I believe Arkansans are ready for my message of bold, conservative leadership, my conversations with friends and supporters have persuaded me that at this time, I can do more for Arkansas in a different capacity. I have prayed about this decision with my family and I have listened.
Today I am announcing my campaign for Attorney General of Arkansas. We need an Attorney General who will back law enforcement, stand for law and order by cracking down on crime and corruption, and fight the liberal agenda of the Biden/Harris Administration in court. As a former U.S. Attorney and an Army JAG officer for the past 25 years, I have prosecuted those who have broken our laws. I fought the Obama/Biden agenda as a member of Congress and I’ll fight to stop the Biden-Harris administration’s infringement on the rights of Arkansans. And just as I have done as your Lt. Governor, I will find ways to cut waste, save taxpayer money, and deliver results for the people of Arkansas. I humbly ask for your prayers and support as I seek the office of attorney general.”
The attorney general, with some limited exceptions, is not a law enforcement agency. A pending lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Rutledge spending on legal efforts around the country to support the Republican and her own political agenda, a practice Griffin seems prepared to continue.
The support apparently wasn’t “incredible” enough to stay in the Republican primary race with Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (term-limited) and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. His quitting the race likely signals the truth of polling numbers that showed him trailing a bad third in the race, with Sanders the favorite.
The Democrat-Gazette’s Michael Wickline asked Rutledge about rumors that she, too, was getting out of the race and would run for lieutenant governor. She said that was not the case. Sen. Jim Hendren is also considering a Republican race. A political newcomer, Rus Russell of Little Rock, has announced a Democratic candidacy.
Griffin isn’t the first announced candidate for attorney general. Leon Jones, a Hutchinson administration appointee, has already begun campaigning for the Republican nomination.
At last report, Griffin had outraised Rutledge by $1.8 million to a bit more than $1 million. Sanders hasn’t filed a report yet but said she’d raised about a million for her first reporting period. A lawsuit that killed advance fund-raising by political candidates was widely viewed as aimed, first, at helping Griffin and he began raking in money as soon as a federal court decision on the ban was final.
Can Griffin switch this money to a different race? I’m inquiring. Griffin told the Democrat-Gazette he’d refund money to any who requested it
Coincidentally, Sen. Jonathan Dismang, who’s considering a race for lieutenant governor, has filed legislation to require that a candidate who files for one office and then drops out and runs for another must refund contributions collected for the first race. But it refers to a candidate “filing” for office. No one has formally filed for any offices yet.
Sanders and Rutledge issued pro for a best wishes.
Sanders: “Tim Griffin has been a strong voice for Arkansas and I look forward to working with him to unite our party and make our state better. I wish Tim and his family the very best.”
Rutledge, via KARK:
SIDE NOTE: I was reminded that when Steve Clark was elected attorney general he went to court, unsuccessfully, to challenge the Arkansas Constitution’s prohibition against his continuing to hold a commission in the Army Reserve (as Griffin currently does). Said the Constitution:
The Treasurer of State, Secretary of State, Auditor of State, and Attorney-General shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by law; they shall not hold any other office or commission, civil or military, in this State or under any State, or the United States, or any other power, at one and the same time; and in case of vacancy occurring in any of said offices, by death, resignation or otherwise, the Governor shall fill said office by appointment for the unexpired term
However, in 1994, Congress adopted the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act which then-Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said in an opinion might override the constitutional prohibition.
UPDATE: From Jim Hendren
“One thing that is certain about politics is that nothing is certain…I am still weighing my options regarding a run for Governor.”@JimHendren1 sent me this statement in response to @LtGovTimGriffin deciding to drop out of the 2022 race. ⤵️ #NWANews #ARPx pic.twitter.com/jrugm2kPqj
— Andrew Epperson (@eppersports) February 8, 2021