Democrats have no path forward in race against Cotton, attorney says


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A U.S. senator prepared to fight for his seat in a contentious race now appears to be running virtually unopposed.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R) was set to face Josh Mahony (D), who announced Tuesday he’d drop out of the race—two hours after the state’s filing period ended. This proved a serious issue for Democrats hoping to challenge Cotton’s seat, and they no longer have a viable path, said Alex Gray, a Little Rock attorney who’s worked on election issues and balloting.

The party had 10 days after initial notification to alert the governor of a change. Under Arkansas law, Gray said, there are four stipulations under which the party could then legally bring in a new candidate: Mahony’s death, a serious illness, a move out of state or filing for another office.

The wording of Mahony’s press release indicated his health wasn’t in question, so Gray said Democrats won’t legally be able to run.

“Legally, I don’t really know [how they could continue] outside of kinda kicking Mr. Mahony out of the state within the next eight days,” Gray said. “I don’t think they’re gonna be able to fill the vacancy.”

In a Thursday press release, the Republican Party of Arkansas announced it would take legal action against the Democratic Party if it attempted to push forward with another challenger to Cotton.

“News reports suggest that the Democrat Party is scrambling to falsify the reason for Josh’s withdrawal in an attempt to unlawfully put another candidate on the ballot,” the release stated. “Should this happen, the Republican Party of Arkansas will take aggressive legal action against all parties involved to defend the rule of law.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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