LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin on Monday dropped out of the race for governor and will instead run for attorney general.
Griffin announced he was switching two weeks after former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said she was seeking the GOP nomination for governor.
Griffin said friends and supporters persuaded him that he can “do more for Arkansas in a different capacity.”
“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,” Griffin said in a statement released by his campaign.
His decision was first reported Monday morning by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Griffin, a former congressman, was the first candidate to announce a bid to succeed Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is barred by term limits from seeking reelection next year. Griffin raised more than $1.8 million since March, and had endorsements from two of the state’s GOP congressmen.
But the race for the GOP nomination had become overshadowed by Sanders, who is running with former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and who had raised more than $1 million in the first four days of her candidacy.
Griffin’s announcement leaves Attorney General Leslie Rutledge as Sanders’ only rival for the GOP nomination in the 2022 election, though state Sen. Jim Hendren is considering running.
“I think I’m going to have to make some decisions in the next week or so,” Hendren, who has not ruled out running as an independent, said. Hendren is a nephew of Hutchinson.
James “Rus” Russell, who runs an outpatient mental health clinic in Little Rock, is the only Democrat who has announced he’s running.
Rutledge in a statement called Griffin “a fierce advocate for Arkansas’ conservative values,” while Sanders tweeted that she looked forward to “working with him to unite our party and make our state better.”
Griffin had focused his campaign primarily on a vow to eliminate the state’s income tax.
Griffin was first elected lieutenant governor in 2014 and won reelection four years later. Previously, he had served two terms in the U.S. House representing central Arkansas. He has served in the U.S. Army Reserve’s Judge Advocate Corps for more than 24 years and is currently a colonel.
Griffin, who worked in the White House office of political affairs during George W. Bush’s presidency, in 2006 was named interim U.S. attorney for eastern Arkansas after Bud Cummins left the post. Cummins later said he was forced out by the U.S. Department of Justice, and his firing was one of several that prompted a congressional inquiry. Griffin resigned after six months.
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