Democrat Ken Aden’s withdrawal from the 3rd Congressional District race Monday leaves two minor party candidates to face Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., in the Nov. 6 general election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Aden’s withdrawal leaves Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy and Libertarian David Pangrac as the only challengers to Womack on the fall ballot, said Alex Reed of the Secretary of State’s Office.
Aden will not be on the ballot since he has formally refused his party’s nomination, Reed said.
State Democratic Party spokeswoman Candace Martin said the party’s attorney, Benton Smith, has advised that the Democrats cannot name a replacement. In the attorney’s reading of state law, a replacement can be named only if the nominee dies, moves out of state or becomes too ill to run, she said.
“Under Arkansas law, I don’t believe we’ll have the opportunity to replace the candidate,” she said.
Reed said Monday afternoon the party can nominate a replacement either at a state convention or through a special election, but he corrected that statement Monday night.
Reed said the law stipulates the party cannot nominate a replacement except for the instances Martin cited or if the candidate files for another office.
Aden, an Army veteran who saw combat in the Middle East, said his decision to pull out of the race was prompted in part by published reports questioning whether he warrants a Green Beret designation, as he has claimed. The Army has said he does not warrant a Special Forces designation.
According to a news release provided Monday by the Arkansas Democratic Party, Aden said the controversy created “a tremendous distraction” for the campaign.
“I did not want this to have adverse consequences for Democrats across the district or anywhere else in the state,” he said in the release.
Aden said on his Facebook page Monday that he will continue doing nonprofit work and will put his energy into ending hunger.
A call to Aden’s cellphone Monday was answered by a staff member who said the candidate was not immediately available for comment.
In a prepared statement, Womack said, “I respect Mr. Aden’s decision and am sorry for his misfortune, but I still believe he owes the Special Forces community an apology. Insofar as my campaign is concerned, and out of respect to the candidates representing the Green and Libertarian parties, this decision doesn’t change a thing. Our message is still about the future of our country, and I will continue to represent, to the best of my ability, the Third District with honor and dignity.”
Womack, a former Rogers mayor, won his first two-year term to Congress in 2010, defeating Democrat David Whitaker in the general election with more than 70 percent of the vote. Whitaker is a candidate this year for the state House in District 85 and faces Republican Paul Graham in the Nov. 6 election.
Womack retired in 2009 as a colonel in the Arkansas Army National Guard.
Below is the news release announcing his withdrawal from the race effective Monday at 5 p.m..
Ken Aden Withdraws From Race For Congress
RUSSELLVILLE—Ken Aden, Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress from Arkansas’ Third Congressional District, on Monday morning announced his intent to withdraw from the race for United States Congress effective at 5 p.m. on Monday, July 9, 2012.
“Mr. Aden’s campaign has, via overnight mail, submitted the necessary notification prescribed by the Arkansas Code to withdraw from the race for U.S. Congress. A copy of this notification has been provided to the Democratic Party of Arkansas as well,” said Vince Leibowitz, spokesperson for the campaign.
Aden said he was exiting the race in order to spend more time with his family and to help ensure victory for Democrats across the state in November.
“Unfortunately, the ongoing saga related to my military records has created a tremendous distraction for our campaign, and I did not want this to have adverse consequences for Democrats across the district or anywhere else in the state,” Aden said.
“Additionally, as most of you know, I recently became a father for the first time, and I will be exiting this race in order to spend more time with my family,” he continued.
“I sincerely regret any difficulty that this situation has caused my fellow Democrats, my supporters, and staff. I will continue to remain a loyal Democrat and to my best to help Democrats in win in November,” he concluded.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Copy of Mr. Aden’s letter to Arkansas Secretary of State notifying the SOS of his withdrawal. A copy of the same has been transmitted to the Democratic Party of Arkansas.