Jonathan Lockwood, an aggressive communications specialist, is no longer working for the leading Republican gubernatorial candidate

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - State Rep. Knute Buehler, a Bend Republican, chats with a colleague on the House floor. Buehler, a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, parted ways this week with his spokesman.The campaign of a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate, state Rep. Knute Buehler, has parted ways with Jonathan Lockwood, a combative spokesman who was hired in October.

"We are parting ways with Jonathan but we wish him very well," said Buehler's campaign manager, Rebecca Tweed. She declined to comment on the reasons for the change.

Lockwood did not immediately respond to a message requesting a call.

The signficance of the move, and whether it signals a more restrained tone for the campaign, remains unclear. The choice of Lockwood last fall had to some signaled that Buehler, a moderate from Bend, would amp up the tone of his rhetoric and chart a more partisan profile at a time when he faced potential challengers from the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Tweed said the fundamental message of the campaign will remain the same following Lockwood's departure. "Our communications will still focus on making sure that Oregonians know that Governor Brown's lack of leadership is detrimental to Oregonians and will focus on making sure that they know that Knute Buehler is the change that Oregonians need for 2018 and for the future of our state."

Brown's campaign advisor, Thomas Wheatley, said of the Republican campaign shedding Lockwood, "I'm not suprised he got the axe. The Buehler campaign is shaking up their staff because they aren't getting the traction they need from voters."

Observers have characterized Lockwood's style as pugnacious and provocative. One called him a "bomb-thrower."

Before working for Buehler, Lockwood was the spokesman for the Oregon Senate Republicans starting in Nov. 2016. Prior to that he held a number of political jobs in Colorado.

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