Republican Senate candidate Joe Arpaio’s campaign is in free fall with less than a week before Arizona’s primary, according to a published report.
Chad Willems, Arpaio’s campaign manager for 20 years, is no longer involved in the regular operation of his Senate run, AZCentral reported.
“He’s now a consultant,” Arpaio told the newspaper. “Campaigns do have consultants to give you ideas.”
The former Maricopa County sheriff has been aided by Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, two former operatives for Arpaio’s primary opponent, former state Sen. Kelli Ward.
Ward’s spokesman Zachary Henry said the two aides are manipulating Arpaio and trying to settle scores with their former candidate.
“It’s really sad and unfortunate that the social media and campaign of a patriot like Sheriff Joe is being used and manipulated for other means,” he said. “Our numbers show the tactics being used by his staffers are backfiring and he can’t win.”
Stockton and Lawrence have also accused the Ward campaign of threatening to leak nude photos of Lawrence and of “harassment” of the former staffers on social media.
Both Ward and Arpaio are competing for the same slice of the Republican electorate that is supportive of President Donald Trump and critical of figures like Sen. Jeff Flake, whom they are both trying to succeed.
But polls have consistently shown Arpaio trailing in third in the race.
Rep. Martha McSally is the choice of many establishment Republicans and is widely expected to win the primary on Aug. 28.
But Stockton said he expects Arpaio to win next week.
“Across every quantifiable campaign metric, whether it’s social engagement, fundraising, events and scheduling and a bus tour, across all those metrics, his campaign has built significant momentum,” he said. “We’re hoping it’s enough.”