Leader Blues

Friday, January 15, 2010

TOP STORY >> Snyder will not run for re-election

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Second District Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock, announced Friday that after seven terms, he would not seek re-election, choosing family over what was expected to be a rough-and-tumble campaign against former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin.

Although Snyder hadn’t begun campaigning or raising money, Griffin a former aide to Karl Rove, had a double-digit lead over the incumbent, according to at least one recent poll.

Snyder, 62, serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where he chairs the subcommittee on oversight and investigations, the Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Joint Economic Committee.

His style was that of a thoughtful, unruffled public servant in an era of bare-knuckle politicians hurling vitriol and invective.

Snyder and his wife, the Rev. Betsy Singleton, have four young boys, including triplets. He was active in helping to bring programs and construction projects to Little Rock Air Force Base worth millions of dollars.

Snyder said in his announcement, “2010 will be a robust election year during which great forces collide to set the direction for our country for another two years.”

“Over the last several weeks Betsy and I have had discussions with family and friends, including other members of Congress — Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and our own Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) regarding the appropriate balance between family and congressional service when a family has very young children. I have concluded that these election-year forces are no match for the persuasive and powerful attraction of our three one-year-old boys under the leadership of their three-year-old brother, and I have decided not to run for re-election.”

“Two weeks ago, my campaign manager came on board,” said Snyder, “but that first morning, I advised him to do nothing to begin the campaign because of my doubts regarding running. The onset of the new year, the time I always begin organizing my campaigns, did nothing to remove these doubts.”

Snyder’s announcement caught the Democratic Party of Arkansas by surprise, but executive director Mariah Hatta put the best face on the situation.

“We have heard from several who might be interested in running,” she said. “We will definitely have a strong nominee. I have no doubt about that. The Second District is the most Democratic in the state. It has historically sent democrats to Washington and elected Democrats on all levels.”

She declined to say who had expressed interest in the Democratic nomination for Snyder’s seat.

“We will miss him but we respect his decision,” Hatta said. “I can’t imagine raising four children.”

Griffin, the presumptive Republican candidate, issued the following statement: “I respect Rep. Snyder’s decision not to seek re-election. I thank him for his many years of service to the nation, both in uniform and in Washington.”

Griffin capped perhaps the best day of his political career, announcing that Little Rock businessman Warren Stephens had agreed to be the finance chairman of his campaign.

Snyder, who is both a lawyer and a doctor, said he hadn’t thought much about what he would do next, but that “it is clear from observing how much our four little boys eat that I will be working.”

Snyder, an Oregon native, dropped out of college and joined the Marines, working as a medic in Vietnam and reaching the rank of corporal.

He returned to college, earning a medical degree from the Oregon Health Sciences Center in 1979.

He came to Arkansas to serve his residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

He volunteered as a doctor at refugee camps in Cambodia, Thailand, El Salvador, Honduras, Ethiopia and Sudan.

He then attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law School in 1988 while still operating a family medical practice.

He frequently supported traditional liberal issues, and sometimes stood up for unpopular causes, such as repealing Arkansas’ sodomy law.

In Congress, he was one of 113 representatives to vote against authorizing the invasion of Iraq. He was one of only two who voted against prosecuting Saddam Hussein.

“He is a remarkable man who has served our country in so many capacities – in the Marine Corps, as a lawyer and a doctor, and as the proud representative of Arkansas’ Second District,” said Sen. Blanche Lincoln. “He has given an incredible amount of time and energy to the people of Arkansas, and he will be missed.”

“He has built a strong reputation as a man of principle, a trait he carried while serving his nation as a U.S. Marine in combat and a member of Congress,” Pryor said. “I know that whatever the future holds for Vic, he will touch and inspire others; but most importantly, he will be able to spend precious time with his family.”