LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected granting a spot on Arkansas’ ballot to an independent candidate who had hoped to challenge Republican Sen. Tom Cotton but fell short of the signatures needed to qualify.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Wednesday denied the preliminary injunction requested by Dan Whitfield, who had argued the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to collect the 10,000 signatures needed to win a spot on the ballot.

Whitfield said on Twitter that he planned to appeal Baker’s ruling.

Election officials determined that Whitfield had submitted 5,594 valid signatures from registered voters.

Cotton, who was first elected in 2014, currently only has a Libertarian challenger on the November ballot. The only Democrat running against Cotton dropped out of the race unexpectedly hours after the state’s filing period ended in November.

State Democrats said there was no way legally for the party to field a new challenger against the incumbent lawmaker.