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Arkansas Republican Griffin drops U.S. House re-election run

By Suzi Parker

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) - Arkansas Republican U.S. Representative Tim Griffin said on Monday he will not seek a third term in Congress, a surprise announcement made just days after the end of a government shutdown that polls show damaged the Republican Party.

Griffin, 45, had no announced opponent and had raised more than $500,000 for his re-election bid to the U.S. House of Representatives. In a statement, Griffin cited family as the main reason for his decision.

Griffin had supported efforts to strip funding from the federal budget for President Barack Obama's signature health care law, a move that led to this month's 16-day government shutdown, and ultimately failed. Last November, Griffin was named to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, the tax writing panel, which is at the heart of congressional negotiations.

Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, said Republicans such as Griffin were being criticized for their tactics in the government shutdown, which is reflected in low approval for the party in opinion polls.

"It's clear that all Republican incumbents are facing a tough environment right now and I have no doubt he saw some of those numbers," Barth said.

Griffin is the second Arkansas Republican congressman to announce he will not run for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Tom Cotton is running for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor.

Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb said several conservatives are likely to run for Griffin's seat.

The statement by Griffin, who is married with two children, said: "We have decided that now is the time for me to focus intently on my top priority, my family..."

Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Vincent Insalaco said in a statement, "You can't shut down the government for 16 days and hurt the pocketbooks of Arkansas families without taking responsibility for your actions."

Republicans hold all of the state's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

(Additional reporting by Greg McCune; Editing by Grant McCool)

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