Former Democratic Assemblyman Andrew Martin withdrew from the race for state treasurer on Tuesday, but said it was of his own free will and not because of any pressure, coercion or force from party power brokers.
Martin had been testing the waters in the race since at least last August, and announced his candidacy in November. Businessman Zach Conine, who narrowly lost an Assembly primary last cycle, announced his intention to run nine days after Martin had already filed and two days before the candidate filing period ended.
Conine immediately rolled out endorsements from former Treasurer Kate Marshall and Rep. Dina Titus, then unveiled a coveted endorsement from former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a few days later. Martin filed candidate withdrawal paperwork Tuesday morning, the last day candidates can pull their name from the ballot.
Martin said in an interview with The Nevada Independent that it came down to “whether I wanted the focus on unity of the party or being in a very contested situation … I gamed it out to the nth degree and [decided] this is not going to be good for me. We decided that the financial commitment was going to be overwhelming.”
Martin is a certified public accountant and former member of the Economic Forum. He was seated as an assemblyman during the 2013 session even after a judge ruled he was ineligible for the seat because of his residency, and he ran for controller in 2014 but lost to Republican Ron Knecht.
Shortly after news of his withdrawal became public, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and other prominent Democrats applauded him.
“Andrew is a team player who has spent his public career working to make Nevada a better place for hardworking families,” Cortez Masto said in a statement.
Assemblyman and secretary of state candidate Nelson Araujo tweeted to thank Martin “for being a great advocate for hard working Nevadans,” and Conine himself praised Martin “for the countless contributions he’s made over the years towards building a strong Democratic Party in the Silver State.”
Martin said he’d met with Conine and believes he’ll incorporate some of his ideas into his treasurer platform.
“Zach’s a good person,” Martin said. And while he acknowledged he would have liked the support of the state’s Democratic doyens, he said “I reached the point where I was like, ‘if that’s who they wish to support, it’s their decision.’”
The choreography of the statements elicited talk of the Reid Machine, the nickname for the Democratic party apparatus under Reid’s leadership that was known for its tight coordination and effectiveness in staving off potentially expensive and destructive contested primaries.
The day before withdrawing, Martin met at a Starbucks with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak’s campaign manager, Rob Hill, both sides confirmed. Martin said Hill is a friend and they discussed the pros and cons of withdrawing from the race, as well as the prospect of Martin volunteering for Sisolak.
Martin insists he made his decision independently and wasn’t pushed out of the race.
“If someone were to do that — they know that if I was attacked and backed into a corner, there would be a tremendous amount of fight,” he said.