August 22, 2018

Republican U.S. Senate candidate loses campaign manager

Andy Lyman

"The Beast"

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mick Rich is down one major campaign staffer since Tuesday. Rich’s former campaign manager Evan Machan confirmed with NM Political Report that he left the campaign to “pursue other opportunities.”

Nathan James, the campaign’s spokesman, said the campaign would go back to its original staffing structure.

“We’re returning to the non-traditional campaign strategies and team that we used to win the Republican nomination,” James said.

Rich ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Machan came from Ohio to join Rich’s campaign last December after previously working on the presidential campaigns for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in 2016 and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in 2012.

Rich started the campaign facing incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and Libertarian State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, with polls showing Rich and Heinrich with a strong lead over Dunn. In July, Dunn left the race and endorsed former Republican Governor of New Mexico and two-time Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson as a replacement. At Johnson’s first public appearance as an official U.S. Senate candidate, he expressed empathy for Rich, noting that the Albuquerque construction business owner had been campaigning for more than a year before Johnson got in the race.

“I would be angry if I were him,” Johnson said at a press conference last week.

Some Johnson supporters, though not the official Johnson campaign, called for Rich to drop out, but Rich has repeatedly said he will not quit the race.

After Johnson’s press conference officially announcing his campaign, Rich issued a statement reiterating that point.

“It makes no difference who’s in the race,” Rich said. “I’m focused on the hard-working taxpayers of New Mexico, and that’s why I’m going to win, because the people of this state want a senator who will serve as an effective voice in Congress for all New Mexicans.”

A recent poll of registered voters by Emerson College showed Rich in third place, well behind Heinrich and Johnson. But the Rich campaign said numbers from their internal poll showed Heinrich in first place with 41 percent of the vote, ahead of Rich with 34 percent, and Johnson coming in last with 19 percent of the vote. Rich’s internal poll was based on likely voters.