Hickenlooper responds to reports of staff upheaval: It wasn't 'the right team'

Democratic presidential contender and former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Impeachment enters new crucial phase Bullock drops White House bid, won't run for Senate 2020 hopes rise for gun control groups after Virginia elections MORE (D) addressed reports of upheaval of his campaign staff on Tuesday, telling MSNBC it wasn't the right "first team." 

"We thought it was time to make a change," Hickenlooper told host Craig Melvin. "You know, these campaigns are long, hard campaigns, and you don't always get it right with the first team."

"It’s a little bit like putting a restaurant together. Sometimes you don’t quite get the right team at the right time," he continued. 

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Hickenlooper made the comments following media reports that campaign manager Brad Komar and national finance director Dan Sorenson had left the team. Spokeswoman Lauren Hitt confirmed their departures to The Associated Press and said she will also leave the campaign in the coming weeks.

In addition, the campaign confirmed to ABC and CBS on Monday that Hickenlooper's New Hampshire political director Nolan Varee and the campaign's digital director John Schueler were also leaving. 

When pressed by Melvin about whether he had let members of his staff go or if they had quit, Hickenlooper said it was a "combination of the two."

Politico reported on Tuesday that members of Hickenlooper's senior staff advised him to quit the race and look into other opportunities, such as running for Colorado's Senate seat. The report cited an unnamed source familiar with the situation.

Hickenlooper's campaign did not immediately respond to The Hill's requests for comment. 

The former Colorado governor has struggled both in polls and with donors, according to the media reports, putting him in danger of not qualifying for the fall debates, which will have much tougher criteria.

The reports of the staff exits come after the second fundraising quarter concluded on Sunday. Campaigns need to disclose their numbers by July 15, and candidates who disclose weak numbers are expected to be under pressure to drop out.

Hickenlooper has also faced backlash from more progressive Democrats at a time when the party is veering to the left and was booed after he denounced socialism at the California Democratic Party's convention in San Francisco last month.

Updated at 2:52 p.m.