Republican Rep. Tim Griffin announced on Monday that he won't seek re-election for his seat in Arkansas, according to Talk Business Arkansas. This comes less than a week after the end of the government shutdown that dramatically hurt that the Republican Party in polls and improved Democrats' still-slim odds of winning a majority in the House in 2014.
In a statement to Talk Business, Griffin said he wanted to retire to — wait for it — spend more time with his family. "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 [...] 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 told Talk Business. And though the "spend time with my family" excuse tends to send up red flags, Griffin took his young son John to GOP conference meetings during the shutdown.
Griffin's retirement might be especially good news for Democrats, in that his retirement means there will be one less incumbent Republican congressman running in the 2014 primaries.
A recent survey conducted by left-leaning Public Policy Polling and paid for by MoveOn.org found that Democrats could win the 17 seats they need to take over the House and then some, as long as voter anger over the shutdown carries into last 2014. That's a very big if — voter outrage has a short half life, as people who've already forgotten about the sequester know. (To win a House majority, Democrats would have to win the popular vote by a huge 6.8 percent.)
The PPP poll found that, in 25 GOP-held districts, Republicans trail "generic" Democrats, meaning the party has to find the right people to run in those districts. "Democrats must recruit strong candidates and run effective campaigns in individual districts if they are to capitalize on the vulnerability revealed by these surveys," Public Policy Polling's Jim Williams said.
More damning is a survey by CNN/ORC International, which found that 54 percent of those polled think it's a bad thing that Republicans control the House. This is the first time polls have gone against a GOP-led House since Republicans won control in 2010. Six out of 10 polled also think Speaker John Boehner should be replaced.
Those poll results also reaffirm what we've known for a while now — the shutdown was really bad for the Republican Party. And it's been good for Democrats, in that they've raised more money, and, as Politico notes on Monday, they've been able to recruit better candidates to challenge Republican. Politico reports:
In Nebraska, Pete Festersen, an Omaha city councilman, announced earlier this month that he will try to unseat GOP Rep. Lee Terry. Festersen previously said he wouldn’t run against Terry, an eight-term incumbent with a history of narrow reelection wins.
But after Terry came under fire for answering “dang straight” to a question about whether he would accept pay during the government shutdown, Festersen reconsidered.
Similar races are developing in Florida, Indiana and New Jersey. Again, it's hard to say Americans will still be mad about the recent shutdown (or the one we may have next year) when mid-term elections occur next fall, but the polls—and Democrats—are growing increasingly confident that the House could turn blue next year. That's one more post-shutdown problem for the GOP.