As was widely reported yesterday, sophomore Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2) announced that he will not seek a third term in the House, saying that he needs to spend more time with his young children, whom he described as being in their “formative” years.
With Griffin’s retirement, a 20th open seat will now be present in the 2014 election cycle and this one has a good chance of becoming competitive. Though Rep. Griffin and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney each garnered a healthy 55 percent of the vote in this Little Rock metropolitan district, Democrat Rep. Vic Snyder represented a similar configuration of the 2nd District for 14 years.
Recognizing that the Griffin retirement announcement came as a major surprise, names of potential candidates in both parties are quickly beginning to surface, nonetheless. For his fellow Republicans, who Griffin said he wanted to help by announcing his decision early, state senators David Sanders, Jeremy Hutchinson, Jason Rapert, ex-Senate Minority Leader Gilbert Baker, former state Rep. Ed Garner, and businessman French Hill are the most prominent names mentioned.
On the Democrat side, former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays is expected to announce his candidacy today. Considering forming a campaign committee are former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, state Sen. David Johnson, state Rep. Tommy Thompson, former state Rep. Linda Tyler, and Conway Mayor Tab Townsell.
The campaign’s early sector should yield a “Lean Republican” rating, but it would not be surprising to see this contest tip toward “Toss-up” territory once campaigning becomes heavy.
Over the past few election cycles the University of New Hampshire has conducted political polling, but their reliability factor has proved questionable. The new UNH release is not likely to engender improvement because the conclusions are so different from other released polls.
In the Granite State’s 1st Congressional District, the new UNH information (Oct. 7-16; 663 registered New Hampshire voters – 330 registered voters in NH-1, 333 in NH-2) shows Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) to be in much better position than any other data to date, and opposite of what was reported from New England College earlier this month (Oct. 7-9; 882 registered New Hampshire voters statewide). While NEC showed a tight 43-42 percent race between Rep. Shea-Porter and former Rep. Frank Guinta (R), the UNH results give the congresswoman a substantial 48-32 percent advantage.
Interestingly, the largely unknown Dan Innis, the former UNH business school dean, fares better against Shea-Porter than former Rep. Guinta. The poll gives the congresswoman a 43-32 percent lead over Innis.
But an even bigger discrepancy seems to involve 2nd District freshman Rep. Annie Kuster (D), who certainly represents the more Democratic of the state’s two CD’s.
UNH reports Kuster to be trailing former state Sen. Gary Lambert (R) by a one-point 33-34 percent margin. According to New England College in early October, Kuster held a 46-26 percent lead over the former state senator. While Shea-Porter’s job approval is an improved 42:28 percent favorable to unfavorable in the latest survey, Kuster scores an inexplicably poor 23:38 percent.
Obviously, more research must be conducted in order to determine a more accurate New Hampshire political picture. Until confirming data is produced, largely discount the UNH numbers. It is highly doubtful that Rep. Kuster, who has voted the liberal line from what is becoming a liberal-Vermont style district, is in as poor political condition as the UNH data portends.