LITTLE ROCK — State Auditor Charlie Daniels said Monday he will not seek re-election when his term expires in 2014.
Daniels, 73, said in a news release that although he is eligible to run for a second four-year term, he is “ready to retire” after roughly 40 years of public service.
The Republican Party of Arkansas viewed the veteran Democrat’s decision as an opportunity to tighten the GOP’s grip at the state Capitol, where Republicans control both the House and Senate and hold three of the state’s seven constitutional offices. A spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party said the party is confident it will continue to hold a majority of the constitutional offices.
Daniels, from Bryant, was first elected to public office in 1973 when he won a seat on the Parkers Chapel School Board. He later was appointed by Gov. David Pryor as director of the state Department of Labor, a position he continued to hold under Gov. Bill Clinton.
Daniels was elected state land commissioner in 1984 and served for 18 years. In 2002 he defeated then-first lady Janet Huckabee to win the office of secretary of state, an office he held for two four-year terms.
Voter-approved term limits prevented Daniels from seeking a third term as secretary of state. He was elected state auditor in 2010.
State Democratic Party spokeswoman Candace Martin said Monday that the party, “along with the people of Arkansas have appreciated (Daniels’) level of commitment to public service and completely respect and understand his decision.”
State GOP Chairman Doyle Webb said Daniels’ announcement put the Republican Party in “prime position” to win the state auditor’s office next year.
“While Arkansas Democrats will be playing defense all across the state in 2014, Arkansas Republicans will seek to elect responsible fiscal conservatives to important state positions for governor, attorney general, treasurer and auditor,” Webb said.
Those offices are currently held by Democrats. First-term Republicans hold the offices of lieutenant governor, secretary of state and land commissioner.
Martin responded that the Democratic Party is “actively recruiting for strong Democratic candidates to run for each constitutional office and feel that we will continue to hold our majority status.”
In his statement, Daniels said that during his tenure the land commissioner’s office went from generating $300,000 to $12 million in annual revenue and that he was the first commissioner to begin a program for preservation of historic land records kept by the office.
Under his leadership the secretary of state’s office established Voter View, an online resource for voters to view their ballot and polling place, and launched online business and commercial services applications, including an application for online franchise tax payment. The office also supervised the renovation of the east entry promenade to the state Capitol, repaired bases of all the monuments on the grounds and turned the first floor of the Capitol into a high-tech visitor’s center.
As auditor, his office recently launched an e-Filing system for unclaimed property and has been connecting with constituents through social media and smartphone applications.
“I’ve always felt it was a marker of success when another state called my office for advice on imitating a program we’d created, which proved what I’ve always known — even though we’re a small state we are still innovators and leaders, and I’m proud that we’re still setting that standard in my office today,” Daniels said.
Daniels was married for 46 years to the late Patricia Burleson Daniels. He has two children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.