Griffin poised to win Republican nod for attorney general race

The unofficial winner of the Republican primary race for attorney general in Arkansas is Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, according to the Associated Press, which called the race just after 9 p.m.

At that point, Griffin's lead over Leon Jones Jr., was just over 100,000 votes out of an estimated 145,000 votes counted, a lead that continued to widen as the night wore on.

With 96% of the vote count completed, unofficial returns were:

Griffin 284,873

Jones 48,749

Griffin, 53, speaking a little less than two hours after the polls closed, said he was grateful for the support he had received.

"So far, it's been a good night," Griffin said. "We're excited about the results."

Griffin said he had kept a steady pace during the campaign and intends to run much the same race for the general election in November after taking a little time off to spend with his family. He said as summer comes on, the political season will begin in earnest with events such as parades and political gatherings taking place through the summer and into the fall.

"That's always fun and something to look forward to," he said. "We'll celebrate tonight but then we're going to get back to work talking to voters around the state about the same issues we've been hitting on throughout the campaign."

Griffin has served as lieutenant governor since 2015 and was the state's 2nd District congressman from 2011-15. Among other things, he is a former aide to President George W. Bush and a former interim U.S. attorney. Griffin was born in Charlotte, N.C. and raised in the Columbia County seat of Magnolia in south Arkansas. He attended Hendrix College in Conway and received his law degree from Tulane Law School in New Orleans.

Griffin originally announced his intention to run for Arkansas governor to succeed Asa Hutchinson but dropped out of that race and filed to run for attorney general after Sarah Huckabee Sanders -- daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee and former press secretary for former President Donald Trump -- announced her candidacy for the state's top elected position.

In a recent interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Griffin touted his experience as lieutenant governor, former congressman and former U.S. attorney, saying that experience has prepared him to "hit the ground running" as attorney general.

With crime a major concern among voters, Griffin said he would combat crime by pushing for changes in how the state's parole and probation system operates, stricter sentencing guidelines, increased prison capacity, and creating easier public access to criminal information.

Jones, 50, a Little Rock resident who lives in Little Rock and grew up in Pine Bluff, served as director of the Arkansas Department of Labor from 2015 to 2019 and was appointed executive director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission in 2019, a post he held until last year.

Under former governor Mike Huckabee, Jones served as the governor's regulator policy advisor.

In an interview earlier this month with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jones described himself as a "principled conservative" and "a public servant at heart."

About two hours after the polls closed, Sam Montgomery, a spokesperson for Jones' campaign, told the Democrat-Gazette that Jones traveled throughout the state in an effort to connect with voters in every area of Arkansas.

"I have a lot of respect for him and I'm proud of the campaign we ran," Montgomery said. "Leon feels like he ran a solid campaign. He visited all 75 counties and talked to people from all over the state about the issues they care about."

Jones had said he would like to implement a five-district plan which would provide representatives from the attorney general's office to oversee 15-county districts, working with local leaders and law enforcement representatives to identify problems at the local level.

The Arkansas attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer of the state and provides legal representation for state agencies and officers, provides official opinions on legal issues and represents the state in criminal appeals.

The attorney general also represents Arkansas Medicaid in cases of fraud and neglect and pursues violations of consumer protection law. Duties include representing state agencies and officers in court and providing them with legal advice and opinions related to their official duties. The attorney general also enforces state consumer protection, antitrust and environmental law. The office pursues fraud cases regarding the state Medicaid program and handles criminal appeals and habeas corpus cases on behalf of the state.

The attorney general's office also administers several public service programs, including the Crime Victims Reparations Program, which "assists victims of crime by providing financial assistance to eligible individuals or their dependents." Other initiatives include "Smart Choices, Better Chances," a juvenile law-education program and the Arkansas Missing Children Services Program, which serves as a statewide clearinghouse for missing-and-exploited children.

The Arkansas attorney general receives a salary of $136,578 annually.

Griffin will go on to face two challengers for the attorney general post in the Nov. 8 general election; Democratic candidate Jesse Gibson and write-in candidate Gerhard Langguth, both of Little Rock.

Upcoming Events