As election nears, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s campaign manager has left

By Rebecca Ellis (OPB)
Sept. 14, 2020 10:48 p.m. Updated: Sept. 15, 2020 2:30 a.m.

With less than two months to go until Election Day — and just a month until ballots hit the mail — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has lost his campaign manager.

Amy Rathfelder, Wheeler’s campaign manager since January, left the campaign about a week ago, according to Nate Chock, the campaign’s field director. He added that the campaign has “undergone a bit of financial restructuring due to budgetary constraints.”


Mari Neubauer of NWP Consulting, which counts Wheeler as a client, said Rathfelder left to take a new job, though she did not say where. The campaign quickly found a new campaign manager, Danny O’Halloran, who will start Tuesday.

“We are deeply appreciative of Amy’s efforts and wish her luck in her new endeavor,” wrote Neubauer. “We are looking forward to jump starting the campaign as we push forward to Election Day.”

According to a LinkedIn page that seems to belong to O’Halloran, he was most recently the campaign manager for U.S. Rep Antonio Delgado, a moderate Democrat representing New York’s 19th House District. Prior to that, he served as a political director in New Hampshire for Cory Booker’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Neubauer wrote that O’Halloran brings “solid national experience” and was drawn to the position due to “the high profile Ted has gained as Trump attacks Democratic cities like Portland.”


Wheeler has generated positive headlines in national outlets this summer, taking a defiant stance against the Trump Administration in open letters and in nationally televised press conferences. However, in his home city, the headlines have been harsher as the mayor faces substantial criticism for his handling of prolonged racial justice protests in the city. O’Halloran will be entering the job at a time when nearly two-thirds of Portland voters view the mayor unfavorably, according to a recent poll

Rathfelder is not the first of Wheeler’s campaign managers to step down mid-gig. Jennifer Arguinzoni left the job for a position at Nike in late December of last year. Rathfelder took her place.

Wheeler’s reelection bid has stumbled since kicking off in October. His campaign took heat this spring for posting a mailer to voters with endorsements that the mayor hadn’t secured. Recent polls show his unfavorable ratings rising.

Wheeler’s new candidate statement for the voter’s pamphlet for the general election, which was made public Monday, is notable for a different reason: it doesn’t list any endorsements from other elected officials.

His statement lists endorsements from five groups — NW Oregon Labor Council, AFL-CIO, UFCW 555, SEIU, and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters — but no political figures. For the primary, Wheeler had listed Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Metro President Lynn Peterson as endorsements on his candidate statement.

In an interview last week, Hardesty said she’s still deciding whether to endorse the mayor in the general election. She has been critical of his handling of the racial justice protests and has asked that he assign her control of the police bureau. Wheeler’s opponent on the ballot, Sarah Iannarone, has pledged to put Hardesty in charge of the police should she win in November.

“I have made no commitments for any endorsements in the general election,” Hardesty said. “Wheeler and I are still talking. Haven’t said no, haven’t said yes, but we’re still talking.”

Chock, Wheeler’s campaign field director, said the decision to not list more endorsements was a matter of saving space.

“We prioritized content regarding the Mayor’s vision for the city over the next four years rather than listing further endorsements, especially given the word count constraints,” he wrote.