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Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR)
Wowza. I don't think anyone was expecting this when they woke up on Monday morning. Republican Rep. Tim Griffin, who serves Arkansas' Little Rock-based 2nd Congressional District, announced that he's retiring after just two terms in office. Griffin's decision is especially surprising given that he's just 45 years old, and his stated reason—the clichéd "spend time with my family"—is so thin that, combined with his age and short tenure, it just invites speculation as to his true feelings.

What's more, Griffin handily won this seat during the GOP wave of 2010 after Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder retired, and given that Mitt Romney easily carried the 2nd 55-43 last year, he would have been strongly favored for a third term next year. That makes Griffin's decision even more mystifying.

If you were politically active during the George W. Bush years, you'll remember Griffin as the Karl Rove acolyte who leveraged his hackish loyalty into an utterly undeserved appointment as U.S. Attorney—one that he secured, thanks to an extremely controversial loophole, without Senate confirmation. Immense pressure forced him to resign just six months later, so holding jobs only for short periods seems to be something of a pattern with him. At the very least, we know that this is not a terrific time to be a Republican member of the House.

And now, though, his seat will become a potential Democratic pickup, albeit a reach. Late last week, rumors surfaced that former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays would take a run at Griffith; on Monday, that crystallized a bit further, with MSNBC's Jessica Taylor saying Hays would announce a bid on Tuesday, according to an unnamed "Democratic source."

Other possible Democratic names include state Sen. David Johnson, state Rep. Tommy Thompson, businesswoman (and former state Rep.) Linda Tyler, state Secretary of Education Shane Broadway, former Lt. Gov. (and 2010 Senate candidate) Bill Halter, and Little Rock school board official Dianne Curry.

Republicans will definitely have the advantage when it comes to retaining this red-trending district, though. Some potential options are wealthy businessman and one-time George H.W. Bush aide French Hill and state Sen. David Sanders. Interest is likely to be high, so others will almost surely soon emerge.

Generally speaking, Democrats have performed much better in presidential rather than midterm elections in recent years, so 2014 turnout ought to lean in the Republican direction. But Arkansas is one of those places, like West Virginia, where Barack Obama was unusually unpopular, so Democrats might actually be better off without him exerting downward pressure at the top of the ticket.

If that turns out to be the case, Griffin may have just made life a lot more difficult for his party, especially if his premature retirement adds to the growing narrative that Republicans are starting to appear endangered in next year's elections. As always, we'll be following all developments here, so stick with Daily Kos Elections for our coverage of this unfolding race.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 10:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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