Doug Butzier, an Iowa doctor who was running as a third-party candidate to fill retiring Democrat Tom Harkin's seat, died in a plane crash Monday night, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports.
Butzier was running as a Libertarian in the contested race where front-runners Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley are in a dead heat, according to an Oct. 12 Des Moines Register poll. The emergency medical physician was one of four third-party candidates on the ballot in the Midwestern state.
Butzier died piloting a small plane from Akeny, Iowa, back to Dubuque, according to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. He was alone in the plane.
Both Ernst and Braley offered their condolences. "I appreciated Doug's willingness to contribute to this important election," Ernst said in a statement. Braley's office expressed "enormous respect for anyone who puts their name forward as a candidate for public office."
With exactly three weeks to go, campaigns for Iowa's Senate seat are in full swing. Just last month a loss seemed inevitable for the Democrats, yet as of Sunday's poll, the race to fill Harkin's seat was a 1-point contest.