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story.lead_photo.caption Josh Mahony ( NWA Democrat-Gazette / Andy Shupe)

Josh Mahony, the only Democrat who filed to challenge U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. in 2020, announced on Twitter that he was dropping out the race just two hours after the filing period ended in Arkansas.

Mahony, a Fayetteville Democrat, cited “a family health concern” as the reason for exiting the race, saying he’d no longer be able to devote the necessary time and energy to the campaign.

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to all of those who have supported me during this race,” he said in a statement. “It has been the honor of my life to be able to meet and visit with so many Arkansans over the last six month and hear their voices. It was my sincere hope to be their advocate in Washington D.C. However, in this moment right now, I need to focus on my family and place their interests first.”

The week-long period to file for partisan state and federal offices in Arkansas ended at noon on Tuesday; Mahony’s announcement was posted to Twitter at 2:16 p.m. He was the only Democratic candidate who filed for the U.S. Senate seat held by Cotton, according to the Arkansas secretary of state’s office.

Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Michael John Gray said he was informed of Mahony's exit from the race when "someone saw the post" on Twitter. He said he had subsequently spoken briefly with Mahony.

"Josh is a friend and I hope everything is okay," Gray said.

Gray added that DPA staff and legal advisors were having conversations with the secretary of state's office over the possibility of finding a replacement for the race.

Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. of Pine Bluff and Independent Dan Whitfield of Bella Vista have filed for the seat.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for details.

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