Harris to cut some staff, redeploy others to Iowa in campaign shake-up

Harris to cut some staff, redeploy others to Iowa in campaign shake-up
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Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisDwayne 'The Rock' Johnson vs. Donald Trump: A serious comparison Exclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren To unite America, Biden administration must brace for hate MORE (D-Calif.) is preparing to lay off dozens of staffers at her Baltimore headquarters and will redeploy others to Iowa as she seeks to stave off financial woes and restructure her presidential campaign, according to a memo obtained by The Hill.

The layoffs come as Harris finds herself struggling to remain in the top tier of the Democratic primary field. Her campaign is bleeding money — her last Federal Election Commission filing showed a burn rate of nearly 125 percent — and she has seen her poll numbers steadily decline in recent months. 


In addition to the layoffs, Harris’s campaign will redeploy staffers in New Hampshire, Nevada and California, as well as some from the Baltimore headquarters, to Iowa, campaign manager Juan Rodriguez wrote in the memo.

“These decisions are difficult but will ensure the campaign is positioned to execute a robust Iowa ground game and a minimum 7-figure paid media campaign in the weeks leading up to the caucus,” Rodriguez wrote.

The Harris campaign's restructuring plans were first reported by Politico.

Harris has ramped up her efforts in Iowa in recent weeks after facing criticism earlier this year for her relative absence from the crucial first-in-the-nation caucus state. This month alone, she has visited the state as many times as she did in the first six months of her presidential campaign combined. 

In the memo, Rodriguez said the layoffs and redeployments were part of the campaign’s plan to go “all-in” on Iowa. In addition to the staffing moves, Rodriguez said that he and the campaign’s consultants would take pay cuts and renegotiate contracts.

“From the beginning of this campaign, Kamala Harris and this team set out with one goal - to win the nomination and defeat Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE in 2020,” Rodriguez wrote. “This requires us to make difficult strategic decisions and make clear priorities, not threaten to drop out or deploy gimmicks.” 

“Plenty of winning primary campaigns, like John KerryJohn KerryUN: Emission reduction plans 'fall far short' Climate change rears its ugly head, but Biden steps up to fight it Recapturing the spirit of Bretton Woods MORE’s in 2004 and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors Arkansas state senator says he's leaving Republican Party MORE’s in 2008, have had to make tough choices on their way to the nomination, and this is no different,” he added.

Part of the challenge for the campaign, Rodriguez said, was that the Democratic primary field remains crowded, creating intense competition for resources. While several candidates have dropped out of the race in recent months, 18 remain, all of whom are vying for similar pools of donors, staffers and voters.

Notably, the changes will not affect the campaign’s operation in South Carolina, the fourth state to vote in the 2020 primary contest and one that Harris sees as vital to winning the Democratic nomination. 

“The South Carolina operation will remain in full force and will not change,” Rodriguez wrote. “These moves will increase the number of field organizers and staff we have on the ground in the first contest and give our campaign the organizational muscle needed to compete in every precinct.”

Harris was seen as a possible front-runner when she launched her campaign in January. She received a boost from the first Democratic presidential debate in June when she confronted former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE over his past opposition to mandatory school busing. That clash jolted her standing in the polls and gave her an injection of new money into her campaign. 

But she struggled to maintain the post-debate momentum, prompting a series of strategy makeovers. 

Her fundraising has remained steady, with her most recent federal filing showing that she raised just under $11.7 million in the third quarter of the year. But she spent nearly $14.6 million in the same time frame and ended the quarter with roughly $10.5 million on hand. 

Lily Adams, the communications director for Harris’s campaign, tweeted after news of the staff changes broke that the cuts were necessary to put Harris on track to win the nomination. 

“Campaigns are about tough choices and this one is no different,” Adams tweeted. “Kamala & this team launched with 1 goal in mind: win the nomination & take on Trump. It wasn't to just participate.”

“We're going to make the hard choices necessary to put us in a place to achieve that goal,” she added.

Reid Wilson contributed to this report, which was updated at 3:49 p.m.