Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) will head into the 2020 election without major opposition after the Democratic Party’s intended senatorial candidate, Joshua Mahoney, dropped out mere hours after filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Mahoney reportedly said he was dropping out to focus on his family amidst a “family health concern,” according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. However, a campaign statement says that he is dropping out to “focus on my family and place their interests first.”
“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to all of those who have supported me during this race,” reads the campaign statement, as noted by the news agency. “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.”
Mahoney originally declared his candidacy back in May, and his abrupt exit has led members of the Republican to believe that, contrary to what Mahoney has publicly stated, a well-timed opposition research dump may be the actual reason for abandoning the race.
Shortly after the deadline to file had passed, Cotton’s campaign manager Brian Colas sent an email to Cotton’s supporters revealing that there were “significant vulnerabilities in Mahoney’s background,” according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
“Our strategy was to hold our research, allow Mahony to gain momentum to prevent other candidates from entering the race, and work [with] the state Republican Party and the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] to release this information after it was too late for anyone else to enter the race,” wrote Colas in the email to supporters, as noted by the news agency.
The Arkansas Republican Party also issued a statement, calling for an FEC investigation into allegedly false statements Mahoney had made on official campaign registration forms.
“A review of contribution records filed with the FEC reveal that, in the past 18 months, Mahony has falsely listed himself as a ‘small business owner’ employed by ‘EAM, LLC’ at least seventy-four times, despite admitting that he was actually unemployed during that time, having previously sold his interest in a business owned and run by a member of his extended family,” according to the statement on the state Republican Party’s website. “Willfully making false statements to a federal agency (or causing others to do so) is a violation of federal law and carries civil and criminal penalties.”
“Mahony’s misrepresentations aren’t just to the government. He has already repeatedly lied to Arkansas voters, falsely claiming that he is a business owner and entrepreneur, when he has been unemployed for years and living off of his wife’s salary and royalties from a business built by extended family members.”
Cotton is currently serving his first term as the state’s junior senator, having defeated incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) in 2014. He is now all but assured re-election in 2020.