Michael Thorning announced Monday that he is dropping out of the ASUNM presidential race, three weeks after resigning from his high-ranking position in the president’s cabinet.
The former chief-of-staff declared March 8 he’d run against Attorney General Jaymie Roybal, and he said ASUNM president Laz Cardenas cut his chief-of-staff duties in half three days later.
“I think I got the sense that it was either going to become a hostile work environment or I wasn’t going to be working there,” Thorning said. “… It sort of seemed the writing was on the wall.”
Cardenas said he supported Roybal’s candidacy since October. Roybal confirmed she and Cardenas are dating.
Thorning was profiled in Monday’s Daily Lobo as the presidential candidate for the New Day slate, but he said he decided not to run because he found the political atmosphere tough to navigate. He also said that after three years of ASUNM involvement, he’s tired.
“The past three weeks have been sort of a difficult situation to be in,” Thorning said. “It’s never an easy decision to withdraw from something like this, in a public thing.”
Instead, Tim Mousseau will run for ASUNM president on the New Day slate against Roybal, from the Now slate.
Thorning said Cardenas was surprised after Thorning told him he intended to run for president.
“He already intended to back Jaymie (Roybal). It wasn’t something I held against him,” Thorning said. “We sat down, and he reiterated to me that he was surprised, and he told me at that time that most of the responsibilities I had — he wanted me to go ahead and not have those any more. I was put on what he said was ‘restricted duty.’”
Cardenas said Thorning broke his trust because he was one of the last people to know about Thorning’s candidacy.
”When you are president, you put your trust in your right-hand man, and your right-hand man is your chief-of-staff,” Cardenas said. “There are some things I didn’t tell anyone else. It’s a sad thing when you put that trust in that person, and there was no trust returned back.”
Thorning was Cardenas’ campaign manager during last year’s ASUNM election.
Thorning said Cardenas told him he would no longer have chief-of-staff duties during public forums, such as the Student Housing Advisory Committee.
When Thorning got back from spring break, he said he discovered his access card to the ASUNM offices no longer worked. Cardenas said this was a normal procedure following a resignation.
“He lost access when he resigned,” Cardenas said. “If he was retaliated against, he would have been fired. It was Wednesday of spring break when he turned in his resignation letter.”
Roybal said she, Thorning and Mousseau were originally all part of one slate, called Spark. Thorning and Mousseau left the slate along with three of Spark’s 10 Senate candidates.
Roybal planned to run for president, Mousseau was positioned to run for vice president, and Thorning was the slate’s campaign manager, she said.
However, Thorning denied ever promising support to the Spark slate, and he said he made clear his intentions to run for president shortly after the slate formed.
Roybal said Mousseau intended to run for ASUNM president since October.
She said Mousseau asked her to run as vice president in his slate, but that she told him she already planned to run for president. She said he probably regretted his decision to run underneath her.
“I think in the back of Tim’s mind he was always like, ‘I should not be running for vice president. I should be running for president,’” she said.
Roybal said she was shocked to learn Mousseau and Thorning planned to separate from the Spark slate. She said Thorning was a “plant” presidential candidate, and that Mousseau always intended to run in Thorning’s place.
“I think they put Michael there so that Tim could run for president and we wouldn’t be expecting it,” she said.
Mousseau said he disagreed with Roybal’s leadership style.
“I might view the administration a little differently than Jaymie might,” he said. “That was one of the biggest issues for me — that we might not see eye to eye on when to listen to what the administration was saying and when to question what they’re saying.”
Roybal said backstabbing has no place in the undergraduate student government.
“All the deception and all the lies — I’m pretty disgusted about all of it,” she said. “One, who do you trust? And, two, who is telling the truth?”