Three of Gov. Nathan Deal’s top aides are set to join his re-election campaign in hopes of giving his final run for office a jolt.
Deal chief of staff Chris Riley, chief spokesman Brian Robinson and legislative liaison David Werner are taking leave from their official jobs to help the governor’s bid against Democratic challenger Jason Carter.
The move comes as Deal seeks to inject new energy in a campaign that has trailed in recent fundraising and lagged in some polls. The governor hinted at coming changes in a conference call with GOP lawmakers last month when he vowed he’s “not going to leave anything on the table.”
The move frees Riley, his most trusted aide, and Robinson, one of his fiercest defenders, to play more active roles on the campaign trail. But it also leaves the governor’s office devoid of three key aides for a nearly three-month stretch after the three join the campaign on Aug. 16.
Riley said in an email to staffers that the office will “continue to work as it normally would,” though he did not name an interim replacement. Other deputies will step in for Robinson and Werner.
“As you all know, I have had the opportunity to work for Gov. Nathan Deal for the past 22 years,” Riley wrote. “I have been involved in each of his campaigns since 1992, and there’s no way I’d miss the last campaign he will ever run.”
Democrats were heartened by the staff shakeup, touting it as a sign that Deal’s campaign was flailing. And Carter’s campaign questioned whether the shakeup amounted to any change for the three, who are known to have a strong behind-the-scenes influence on Deal.
“I thought (Robinson) was already there,” tweeted Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas. Campaign manager Matt McGrath added his own dig, writing: “They ever left?”