No one was any more surprised than the Democratic Party of Arkansas when Josh Mahony withdrew from the U.S. Senate race against Tom Cotton two hours after filing closed Tuesday.

Mahony issued a statement citing family health reasons, but has said nothing more. State law seems likely to bar a replacement nominee unless the vacancy is due to Mahony’s own illness or his move out of state. The statute doesn’t mention illness of a family member as a reason.

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The Democratic Party of Arkansas issued this statement today:

“Our thoughts and immediate consideration are with Josh and his family. His and his family’s health should be our main focus, as with any candidate in our party or the Republican Party,” said Chairman Michael John Gray. “Party leadership including myself and staff are directly working with our legal counsel, our Rules Committee, and the Secretary of State’s office to review all possible avenues moving forward. Arkansans were promised a choice this election, and we are working to ensure they have that choice. We know there are questions, and are working to get the clear and correct answers.”

Though the matter is sensitive, Mahony owes someone an explanation if for no other reason than to ascertain quickly that there is no avenue by which the Democrats may move forward.

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Republicans are gloating. Republican incumbent Sen. Tom Cotton was a heavy favorite regardless (and still has unknown Libertarian and independent opponents) but he’ll be free to spend his huge campaign and PAC treasury against other Arkansas Democrats, perhaps even at the state legislative level. He’s shown a taste for that before.

 

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