Kamala Harris Presidential Campaign

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Template:TOCnestleft Kamala Harris Presidential Campaign

Campaign turmoil

November 2019, as the California senator crisscrosses the country trying to revive her sputtering presidential bid, aides at her fast-shrinking headquarters are deep into the finger-pointing stages. And much of the blame is being placed on campaign manager Juan Rodriguez.

After Rodriguez announced dozens of layoffs and re-deployments in late October to stem overspending, three more staffers at headquarters here were let go and another quit in recent days.

Amid the turmoil, some aides have gone directly to campaign chair Maya Harris, the candidate’s sister, and argued that Rodriguez needs to be replaced if Harris has any hope of a turnaround, according to two officials.

“It’s a campaign of id,” said one senior Harris official, laying much of the blame on Rodriguez, but also pointing to a leaderless structure at the top that’s been allowed to flail without accountability. “What feels right, what impulse you have right now, what emotion, what frustration,” the official added. The person described the current state of the campaign in blunt terms: “No discipline. No plan. No strategy.”

The internal strife is the latest discouraging development for Harris’ once-encouraging candidacy. She has slid into low single digits and is now banking on a top-tier performance in Iowa to pull her back into contention. Inside the campaign, which had already experienced staff shakeups before the layoffs, rank and file aides are fed up with the weak leadership and uncertainty around internal communication, planning and executing on a clear vision. They say the constant shifting has eroded trust in the upper ranks.

While staff ire centers on Rodriguez, his defenders argue he has stood loyally by the candidate despite being relegated to a role akin to deputy campaign manager to Maya Harris. They say he’s had to get Maya Harris’ buy-in even on routine decisions, which were often slow to materialize, further undermining staff’s confidence in him as a supervisor.

During a recent meeting, aides pressed Rodriguez and Maya Harris for answers about campaign strategy. At one point during the more than two-hour discussion, Maya Harris herself turned to Rodriguez and challenged him in front of about 20 staffers, and several more listening in by phone. Rodriguez seemed unprepared for the exchange, according to people present. They walked out with little consensus about how to prioritize upcoming events and strategy around advertising.

Still, others point to Rodriguez’s constant yielding to Maya Harris as a reason he should be held accountable for the campaign's failures. “It was his decision,” another aide said of the fraying pact, adding there were opportunities for him to take control. “He chose to defer to Maya.”

The unorthodox composition of the campaign is further complicated by other factors. Rodriguez’s California business partners — Ace Smith, Sean Clegg and Laphonza Butler — are senior Harris advisers atop a flat leadership structure that includes just a few other outside voices, including ad maker Jim Margolis, pollster David Binder and Maya Harris. Critics of the arrangement say it has contributed to an insular culture and reinforced the business partners’ long-term obligations to one another.

The leadership upheaval is the latest turn in a campaign that has endured multiple reorganizations and never gelled as a unit. In September, Rodriguez announced internally that he was putting Butler and Rohini Kosoglu, Harris’ former Senate chief of staff, in charge of most departments. The moves soon gave way to other changes.

Under an updated iteration, Clegg formally assumed control of messaging while Butler took over the financial, digital and operations teams. Dave Huynh, the campaign’s delegate expert, was put in charge of the political department. Emmy Ruiz’s turf included states and the field organization. And Kosoglu oversaw scheduling, communications, advance and policy.

In late October, Rodriguez informed staff that he was redeploying aides to Iowa from other states and laying off dozens of others, including at the campaign’s headquarters. He said at the time that the moves were driven by the need to stash enough money for a seven-figure TV ad buy in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Now, it’s unclear whether Harris will have the money to do so.

The former aide said people in the campaign began warning of declining revenues early, but that leadership dysfunction around Rodriguez, Maya Harris and others convinced the person that Harris wasn’t getting an unvarnished view of the picture. “I don’t think anybody wanted to tell her,” the former aide said, adding, “I still don’t think she knows the severity.”

Other aides express fears that the candidate is not being advised of the gravity of the organizational troubles. And they question the wisdom of firing junior and midlevel staffers while the main people empowered to make decisions have all been spared.

Harris’ history with Rodriguez began six years ago, when Rodriguez, who had been an aide to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, took a job in the California attorney general’s office as a conduit to the city of Los Angeles. Late in 2015, Rodriguez, then a senior adviser to Harris’ Senate campaign, came out of the bullpen to manage her race after she parted ways with her first manager. It wasn’t a competitive contest, but Rodriguez helped oversee spending cuts and staff and consultant layoffs as he worked to significantly slash Harris’ overhead.

Maya Harris had helped bring in the first round of hires for that campaign, including several people who were eventually fired, before leaving to run policy for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Rodriguez confidants from the campaign said they urged him to quit long ago given the challenging nature of the family dynamic, but they don’t think he will. “It was like, ‘I need to be the captain of the Titanic and go down with this ship,’” one said after talking to him recently.

In a statement to POLITICO, Rodriguez said, “Campaigns are long and arduous, but we are all united in our commitment to making sure Kamala is the nominee to take on Donald Trump and win.”

“We have had to make tough decisions to compete in Iowa and ensure Kamala is in a position to be the Democratic nominee, but Maya, I, and the rest of the amazing team are pouring our heart and soul into winning this campaign.”[1]

Joe Henry connection


Kamala Harris with Joe Henry, a member of Communist Party USA since 1982.

Return to Iran Deal

From Mana Mostatabi National Iranian American Council.

Washington, D.C. March 20 2019 — Yesterday, reports emerged that 2020 presidential contenders Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders joined Elizabeth Warren in backing the United States’ return to the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In response, NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“We commend Senators Sanders, Harris, and Warren for committing to reversing Trump’s failed Iran policy, and for recognizing the urgent need to return to the JCPOA and the successes resulting from the diplomatic playbook first written under the Obama administration.

“Returning the U.S. to compliance with the JCPOA is a logical first step for the next U.S. president—and candidates like Harris, Sanders, and Warren know this. Their commitment to a policy centered on engagement with Iran advances the Obama administration’s multilateral diplomacy that successfully yielded real security gains. This starkly contrasts with Trump’s impetuous decision to withdraw from the accord and impose sanctions that do nothing more than devastate the Iranian people, increase the risk of a nuclear-armed Iran, and bolster the chance of a disastrous war.”

Abdi continued:

“Both Sanders and Harris elevate diplomacy as the way to address America’s many outstanding concerns with Iran. The reality is that without a return to the deal, the U.S. has no leverage to shape Iran’s calculations, including on human rights and regional issues. The Trump administration has clearly illustrated how America’s failure to abide by its JCPOA commitments has greatly hindered its ability to extract concessions from Iran. Worse yet, Trump has elevated war hawks to key positions in the administration, many of whom hope to drive the U.S. into war with Iran.

“As a JCPOA return emerges as the consensus position for 2020 candidates, we urge all those vying to replace Trump to publicly commit their support for a U.S. JCPOA return. Only by returning to the JCPOA can the U.S. ensure that Iran does not walk away from its far-reaching nuclear commitments and that the window for diplomacy with Iran remains open.”[2]


Campaign Staff




Mayors (CA)