Flipping the Senate: Josh Mahony-Defeating Tom Cotton in Arkansas

Josh Mahony is running for US Senate in Arkansas in 2020. 

Many of us know that there are certain races that political enthusiasts watch not only because of their political interests but because they want to see a specific incumbent defeated. A prime example of this right now are the Democratic voters in South Carolina who are cheering on Jaime Harrison as much to see him defeat Senator Lindsey Graham as it is for his dynamic personality and political acumen. Arkansas could soon be in a very similar situation with Josh Mahony who is currently running for the US Senate to repeal and replace Tom Cotton, and I had the chance to speak with him about this upcoming race.

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Senate candidate, Josh Mahony surrounded by supporters. photo credit @joshuamahony

Senator Tom Cotton is a Trump apologist, and like other Republicans in the upper chamber, he has allowed Trump to abuse his powers to start a tariff war with China while insulting the American farmers that were the first economic victims of the “trade war.” Mahony understands the needs of struggling Arkansans and it’s not higher tariffs on the Chinese and our NATO allies—it’s opportunity.

Mahony states, “Making sure that people have access to education and also making sure that they have opportunities economically where they live in our state—because when you’re largely rural there may not be the jobs here that will pay for you to have a sustainable quality of life for yourself and your family—is what prompted me to run for office.” Mahony understands the need for opportunity firsthand as he previously sat on the board of the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Program, which was initiated by the-then First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary Rodham Clinton. “It helps single parents at the poverty line, or below, get a college education or learn a trade or get a certification so they can earn a wage that will help them provide for their families,” Mahony said.

So-called “red states” frequently deal with high poverty rates. According to US News and World Report, Arkansas has the 7th highest poverty rate in the United States, just behind Alabama and slightly better than Oklahoma. Even so, Republican politicians continue to refuse domestic investments in favor of passing tax cuts like the one Donald Trump and Tom Cotton passed. These tax cuts were evaluated in depth by Bloomburg News and then broken down—promise by promise—to show how the richest Americans gained the most even though the law was passed largely by politicians representing the poorest states.

Cotton made his position clear in stark terms when talking about the sacrifices of family farmers feeling the pain from the Trump trade wars. “There will be some sacrifice on the part of Americans, I grant you that,” Cotton told Gayle King on CBS This Morning in May. “But also that sacrifice is pretty minimal compared to the sacrifices that our soldiers make overseas that are fallen heroes or laid to rest in Arlington.” Cotton was oblivious to how inappropriate the comparison was even when he was confronted by it. He shrugged it off with a remark about the greater good.

“Farmers are hard working, smart people,” Mahony told me. “I think that the dismissiveness over the tariffs was incredibly insulting and you know the thing with our farmer community, when you’ve lost our farmers they’re not coming back to you.” Mahony was clearly angry at Cotton’s glibness. “We are putting the supplier trade war on the backs of farmers, particularly in Arkansas, and it’s going to do irreparable harm to our state and to our farmers. And they don’t deserve that. These are people that work hard every day. Farming is an incredibly high overhead business. They’re very aware that these relationships aren’t going to come back the next day, and you’re putting people in a position where they’re going to lose their livelihood.”

Since Trump took office, Republicans have jealously grabbed power from the majority of Americans. Trump has been able to count on Senators like Cotton to be his rubber stamp that also protects Trump from accountability for his gross incompetence, his contempt for Congress and the rule of law, his profiteering from the White House, his alleged criminal behavior toward women, and the gross human rights violations at the border. Instead of reigning in Donald’s worse impulses, the Republican members embolden him.

Perhaps the most despicable behavior out of the Trump regime is the treatment of migrants and refugees at the Mexican-American border. Even before the most recent images of crowded cages full of women and children, the American people learned that their government had taken children away from their families before determining how to keep track of them and with no intention of reuniting the families once the kids and adults worked their way through the complicated immigration system. “…that might be the worst thing I think I’ve ever seen to come out of the modern United States that this administration has done. It’s disgusting,” Mahony said. “I am a very big advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.” Asked what that would look like, Mahony told me that, “It would include a pathway for citizenship.”

Republicans aren’t just hurting farmers, or migrants and refugees, there’s also a national effort (still) to eliminate the autonomy of American women. The most successful effort during Trump’s assault on the rule of law may ironically be the stacking of the court with white, so-called conservative judges—including the seat on the Supreme Court that Mitch McConnell stole from President Obama in 2016—and a second justice following the retirement of Anthony Kennedy. Anti-women activists on the right believe the time is right to criminalize abortion.

“Fundamentally, for me, this comes down to trusting women,” Mahony tells me. “I trust women to make their own health care decisions. I do not have a uterus. I am never going to be physically pregnant. It is not for me to tell a woman what she should choose to do with her health care. The attack on women’s health care is unconscionable to me.” An effort by men in power to control women’s bodies was particularly offensive to Mahony. “When I had to go to the doctor, my mom was the person I talked about it with. I certainly trust any other woman to go to the doctor and make the appropriate decision for herself. And if that means she needs to consult her folks, her family, and her doctor to make the decisions about her health care, I’m proud of her for doing her due diligence in maintaining her values. But at the end of the day, again, I trust women to make the right decision for themselves.”

Mahony is one of many Democrats who are fighting for the rule of law, opportunity for all, and to protect American’s civil and human rights. There will be an America after Trump and we will need those who share American values in power; not Trump apologists like Tom Cotton.

Josh Mahony is a Democrat running for US Senate in Arkansas. To support his campaign and donate to his efforts visit https://joshuamahony.com/ and follow him on Twitter @joshuamahony