FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Josh Mahony has officially exited the 2020 race.
Mahony cites family health concerns as the reason for the abrupt exit but did not release any further details.
In a press release, Mahony's camp says he will no longer be able to devote the time and energy that is necessary to run a viable campaign.
The campaign will cease all operations immediately.
Mahony released the following statement:
“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to all of those who have supported me during this race. It has been the honor of my life to be able to meet and visit with so many Arkansans over the last six months and hear their voices. It was my sincere hope to be their advocate in Washington, DC. However, in this moment right now, I need to focus on my family and place their interests first.”
The family is asking for privacy at this time.
In May, Mahony announced his Democratic bid to challenge U.S. Senator Tom Cotton in the 2020 election. He was the candidate for the fourth district of Arkansas.
Mahony and Cotton both filed paperwork Monday (Nov. 4) to run against each other next year in Arkansas.
The announcement leaves Democrats without a candidate to challenge Cotton, who was first elected to the Senate in 2014. Mahony had badly trailed Cotton in fundraising and faced an uphill challenge in the solidly red state. Cotton last month reported having more than $4 million in the bank for his re-election bid, while Mahony had $25,833.
"Sen. Cotton is praying for Josh and his family. He hopes they recover and he wishes them well," Brian Colas, a consultant for Cotton's campaign, said.
State Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray said he was not aware of Mahony's plans until the tweet and was unsure what options the party may have. Arkansas law generally only allows parties to replace nominees because of death or serious illness.
"I've reached out to some election officials and we're gathering that information," Gray said.
Mahony last year unsuccessfully challenged Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Womack in northwest Arkansas.
Libertarian candidate Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. and Independent candidate Dan Whitfield have also filed to run against Cotton.
Mahony announced in May that he was challenging Cotton, accusing the GOP lawmaker of losing touch with constituents. Cotton in September began running a digital ad that didn't mention Mahony, but instead criticized former Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke's call for confiscating assault rifles.
Before he dropped out of the race, the state GOP said Tuesday it planned to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Mahony that accused him of falsely listing himself as a small business owner on contribution records.
Click here to read the Republican Party of Arkansas' full investigation request.