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Rick Perry’s top Iowa staffer has jumped ship to Rick Santorum’s campaign, leaving the former Texas governor with just one paid staffer in the first nominating state. 

{mosads}Santorum’s team confirmed that Karen Fesler, Perry’s former Iowa co-chair, has joined its effort in the state after she spent 2012 running Santorum’s Missouri effort. 

“I am excited to welcome Karen Fesler back to our campaign team,” Santorum said in a statement. 

“I am confident that she will provide our campaign with great insights, advice, and a strong network to build our national campaign infrastructure.” 

The campaign also released a statement from Fesler praising Santorum as a “principled conservative who is prepared to lead our nation on day-one.” 

Fesler’s departure comes one week after Perry lost another top Iowa staffer, Sam Clovis, to the Trump campaign. Fesler had previously worked on Clovis’s brief 2014 Senate bid in Iowa. 

It’s the latest in staffing woes for Perry, who reportedly stopped paying most of his campaign staff. The Des Moines Register reported on Monday that Perry now only has one paid staffer in Iowa.

Robert Haus, Perry’s unpaid Iowa strategist, told The Register that the campaign is working on a “large fundraising push” and will prioritize the Iowa team if it can rehire staff. 

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, we’ve seen it, and we’ll emerge,” Haus added. 

Perry jumped into the field looking to build on his brief 2012 campaign, when he shot up to as high as 38 percent nationally in late August, 2011, in a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. But he crashed back down to Earth after a panned debate performance and dropped out of the presidential race the following January.  

This cycle, he hasn’t eclipsed 5 percent at the polls nationally since October and is an essential lock to finish outside of the top 10 ahead of September’s CNN debate, polling between 1 and 2 percent.

Tags Rick Perry Rick Santorum

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