Friday, October 25, 2013

TOP STORY >> Williams foregoes 2nd Dist.contest

Leader staff writer

State Sen. Eddie Jo Williams (R-Cabot) could run for the soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin’s seat, even though Williams doesn’t live in the 2nd District. “I’d have to move across Hwy. 5,” he quipped, “to be in the district.”

But he said Arkansas has a quirky law that allows you to run for a U.S. representatives seat even if you aren’t in the district. Alex Reed, with the secretary of state’s office, verified that Thursday. “You only have to be a resident of the state,” Reed explained.

Griffin announced last week he would not seek a third term, meaning his tenure in Washington would end at the end of 2014.

When Griffin made his announcement, Mayor Gary Fletcher and dozens of other supporters immediately called Williams and suggested that he run.

“I’m honored by the calls,” Williams said, but he said the odds would be against him. Most of Williams’ support is based in Cabot and Lonoke County, which are in the 1st District.

“Without that support, it would be tough,” he said. Williams did hint that if 1st Dist. Rep. Rick Crawford ever decides to step down, he would consider a run for that seat.

Besides, Williams said he’s enjoying spending time with his nearly dozen grandchildren. “I’ve been out hunting with one of my grandsons numerous times recently, and each time it’s like a brand new adventure,” Williams said. “How many Washington monuments could I show him and he’d have that same enthusiasm?”

Williams said Griffin’s district, which includes Pulaski, Saline, Faulkner, White, Perry, Conway and Van Buren counties, traditionally leans to the right. “If we get a strong candidate, we should win,” he said.

On the recent special session, Williams said he was glad lawmakers were able to get in and get out. He said the insurance issue for teachers was a very complex one, but something had to be done. “We are self-insured. That makes the state responsible. We had to find solutions,” he said.

He said there are still a number of long-term issues that need to be resolved in the next session, which starts early next year.

“There are many examples of insurance programs out there doing well and we need to look at them,” the senator said.

Back to Griffin’s seat, he said there would be a number of good candidates, but he didn’t mention any by name. “It’s up to them to decide and announce,” Williams said, “but I will back and work hard for whoever gets the nod.”

Some names mentioned by political analysts include state Rep. Ann Clemmer (R-Benton), who is term-limited in her current position, state Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) and Little Rock banker French Hill.

On the Democratic side, former North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays has announced he will run for the position.