The presidential campaign of Sen. Kamala Harris laid off more than a dozen field organizers and shuttered three of her four offices in New Hampshire, campaign officials said Friday, amid a dramatic campaign reorganization forced by slow fundraising and declining public support.
In another highly symbolic move, the California senator has decided to skip the ceremonial in-person filing of paperwork for ballot access in New Hampshire, a traditional milestone that gets heavy media coverage for presidential candidates.
She will still arrange for her name to be placed on the ballot, her advisers said.
“Sen. Harris and this team set out with one goal – to win the nomination and defeat Donald Trump in 2020,” campaign spokesman Nate Evans said Friday. “To do so, the campaign has made a strategic decision to realign resources to go all-in on Iowa, resulting in office closures and staff realignments and reductions in New Hampshire.”
The campaign will continue to have a presence in the first primary state, with an office open in Manchester, campaign officials said.
The announcement marks yet another setback for Harris who launched her campaign with significant early fundraising success and a rally in Oakland, California, that drew more than 20,000 people. As recently as July, after the second set of presidential debates, Harris described herself as someone who was “perceived to be the front-runner.”
But she struggled early on with her plans for health care, first embracing a Medicare-for-all plan that would eliminate private health insurance and then proposing an alternative approach that would preserve a role for the current marketplace. She also struggled to convey a clear message about what her presidency would mean for the country, alternating between pitches that emphasized her prosecutorial background or liberal bona fides, and ones that focused on the economic frustrations of working people.
Since then, her standing has fallen and her rate of fundraising has slowed. She continued to boast more than $10 million in cash on hand at the end of September, the fourth highest in the field.
A mid-July New Hampshire poll by Saint Anselm College found her in second place in the state, with 18 percent support among likely Democratic primary voters. By the end of September, the same poll found she had fallen to fifth place, with 5 percent support.
Similar drops have registered in national and Iowa polls, where she has recently been registering in the mid-to-low single digits.
Harris campaign manager Juan Rodriguez announced the “organizational realignment” Wednesday, citing “an incredibly competitive resource environment.” In a memo to supporters, he wrote that staff would be moved from headquarters in Baltimore, New Hampshire, Nevada and California to support the Iowa operation.
The campaign still plans a media campaign in Iowa that would cost more than $10 million, Rodriguez wrote. The Harris campaign also plans to keep the campaign’s South Carolina operation in “full force” in the hopes that she can make inroads among black voters who have so far given most of their support to former vice president Joe Biden.
A Harris campaign official said Friday that there was nothing yet to report about plans for the Harris Nevada staff.
“Plenty of winning primary campaigns, like John Kerry’s in 2004 and John McCain’s in 2008, have had to make tough choices on their way to the nomination, and this is no different,” Rodriguez wrote in a memo.
Harris appeared Monday on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” to double down on her focus on the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
“I really love being in Iowa. I have to tell you. I really do,” she said. “I love people who are just practical, and who are no-nonsense.”