Second District Cong. Tim Griffin (R) says he will not seek a third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, citing his young family as his primary reason.

“God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, Elizabeth, and two precious children, and for several months Elizabeth and I have been discussing whether to seek a third term in Congress, especially considering the formative ages of Mary Katherine and John. It has been an agonizing and difficult decision involving much prayer, thought and discussion. We have decided that now is the time for me to focus intently on my top priority, my family, as Elizabeth and I raise our two young children,” Griffin tells Talk Business.

“To that end, I will not seek re-election to a third term. I will complete my second term, but I have made no decision as to my plans after Congress except that I will continue in public service, including as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve,” he said.

Griffin was elected in 2010 to his first term in Congress. He serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

His exit opens up an entirely new political dynamic in the Second District in 2014.

The district is competitive for both parties and has the most tilt for Democrats in a state that has seen rural regions skew Republican. Also, the Second District is home to the most populous county in the state and is the largest media market in Arkansas.

With a potentially competitive general election showdown, the Second District will get renewed focus by the high-profile U.S. Senate and Arkansas Governor races.

Griffin said he wanted to make his announcement “sooner rather than later” in order for other candidates in the GOP field to have time to organize.

Those potential Republican candidates include State Sen. Jonathan Dismang, State Sen. David Sanders, State Sen. Jason Rapert, State Rep. Allen Kerr, State Rep. Ann Clemmer, Saline Co. Judge Lanny Fite, former gubernatorial nominee Jim Keet, and Delta Trust and Bank CEO French Hill.

On the Democratic side, former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays was expected to enter the race as early as this week. Other potential Democratic candidates include State Rep. John Edwards, State Sen. David Johnson, former State Rep. Linda Tyler, Conway Mayor Tab Townsell, and Delta Regional Authority director Chris Masingill.

Former Lt. Governor Bill Halter, who dropped out of the Arkansas Governor’s race this summer, has also been rumored as a candidate for the post.

“Bill would be the strongest Democratic candidate for this district and he would help energize base voters there for statewide Democratic candidates. That’s why his phone has been ringing off the hook with people encouraging him to run since Griffin’s announcement. I would expect that encouragement to intensify,” said longtime Halter spokesman Bud Jackson.

Other Democrats and Republicans are likely to test the waters in the near future.

CONGRESSIONAL REACTION
Several of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation weighed in on the Griffin news.

Cong. Steve Womack (R), who represents Arkansas’ Third District, was the first elected official to provide comment.

“Tim Griffin is a trusted and valued member of the House, a principled conservative, and a dedicated servant to the people of Arkansas. I will certainly miss having him as a part of the Arkansas delegation. At the same time, I know the impact this job can have on a family, understand the desire to be closer to one’s young children, and respect his decision. I will continue to support my friend and colleague as he sets out on a new journey,” Womack said.

Cong. Tom Cotton (R), who is challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, said, “Tim is — and will remain — a strong leader for Arkansas and our country. Tim and I first met at Fort Campbell as we both prepared to deploy to Iraq. Since that day, he has been a friend and advisor. I join with our fellow Arkansans in wishing Tim and Elizabeth the very best and expressing our heartfelt gratitude for their service and sacrifice.”

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R) said, “Tim is a dependable steward of Arkansas values as a representative in Washington. His hard work, determination and resolve help improve the lives of Arkansans. Tim is never afraid to stand up to those who stand in the way of progress in the state. We are thankful for his commitment to public service and understand the sacrifices that families in this position have to make. I know how important it is to be with family and I am confident Tim is making the best decision for his constituents and his wife Elizabeth and their young children.”

“Congressman Griffin has been an excellent public servant representing the voice of Arkansas’ Second District, and a great partner in achieving tangible results for our state. I will truly miss my friend and colleague in the House of Representatives. Stacy and I wish Tim and Elizabeth all the best as they prepare to start a new chapter in their life together,” said First District Cong. Rick Crawford (R).

GRIFFIN’S FULL STATEMENT
Congressman Tim Griffin has released the following statement regarding his political future and the 2014 election:

“Serving the people of the Second Congressional District is an honor, and I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given by my fellow Arkansans. To those who have prayed for and supported me and my family, thank you–thank you for your kindness, commitment, time, trust and understanding.

God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, Elizabeth, and two precious children, and for several months Elizabeth and I have been discussing whether to seek a third term in Congress, especially considering the formative ages of Mary Katherine and John. It has been an agonizing and difficult decision involving much prayer, thought and discussion. We have decided that now is the time for me to focus intently on my top priority, my family, as Elizabeth and I raise our two young children.

To that end, I will not seek reelection to a third term. I will complete my second term, but I have made no decision as to my plans after Congress except that I will continue in public service, including as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.

In September 2009, I launched my campaign for Congress as a common sense conservative and have kept my word by supporting bold but pragmatic solutions to address our most pressing problems, including a balanced budget, Medicare reform, repeal of Obamacare, tax reform, and regulatory reform. I am proud that the House’s efforts resulted in the Budget Control Act (BCA), the largest spending reduction in American history. I am equally proud that the House has stopped numerous harmful proposals. I choose to be a citizen-legislator rather than a career politician, and I will continue to do my best representing my fellow Arkansans through the remainder of my term.

I believe 2014 will be another historic year for conservatives in Arkansas, and I stand ready to help with that effort and make sure a conservative wins the 2nd Congressional District. Several Democrats have reportedly been looking at running for this seat. As a result, it is imperative that I make and announce my decision now not to seek a third term so that Republican candidates who wish to succeed me will be able to prepare their campaigns and compete on an equal playing field with the Democrats.

May God continue to bless Arkansas and the United States of America.”