Kamala Harris' campaign will cut staff, focus on Iowa as she struggles with voters and donors

Key Points
  • Kamala Harris' 2020 presidential campaign will cut campaign staff and spending at its headquarters in Maryland to focus its efforts on the first nominating state of Iowa.
  • In a memo sent out to Kamala Harris' 2020 campaign staff, campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said he would "take a pay cut along with all consultants."
  • The moves come as Harris' top donors are privately questioning the campaign's path forward as she continues to slip in the polls, according to people familiar with the conversations.
2020 Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019.
Eric Thayer | Reuters

Kamala Harris' 2020 presidential campaign will cut staff and spending at its headquarters in Maryland to focus its efforts on the first nominating state of Iowa.

In a memo provided by the campaign and sent out to the California Democratic senator's 2020 campaign staff, campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said he would "take a pay cut along with all consultants."

"We will trim and renegotiate contracts, and we will also reduce the size of our headquarters staff," he wrote, without specifying how many positions will be cut.

Harris' support has lagged in both early state and national polls as she struggles in raising funds against her top rivals. Politico first reported on the memo.

The memo notes that "we will deploy many field staff from New Hampshire, Nevada and California and some staff from headquarters to Iowa for the home stretch of the caucus campaign." Iowa's 2020 Democratic caucuses are on Feb. 3. The campaign will keep its operations in South Carolina, the fourth nominating state, unchanged.

The moves come as Harris' top donors are privately questioning the campaign's path forward as she continues to slip in the polls, according to people familiar with the conversations.

With Harris falling behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, among others, some of Harris' lead bundlers have struggled to convince members of their networks to write checks to her campaign. In some cases, many of her supporters have told the campaign that they will not host events for her.

"People like to give to campaigns with momentum, who believe they will win. She has to show people her path to victory," said one member of her finance committee, who declined to be named in order to speak frankly about the situation.

Harris' cash struggles were evident in the third quarter. She finished raising just over $11 million, trailing Biden, Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. She headed into the fourth quarter with over $10 million on hand.

Harris saw her poll numbers surge after she confronted Biden on desegregation and busing at the first Democratic debate in June. However, her support in national polls has fallen dramatically since its July peak.

In the newest national poll released by USA Today/Suffolk on Wednesday, Harris garnered only 3% of support.

After the memo circulated, Harris tweeted, "Nothing worth fighting for is easy. Making history isn't easy. Defending justice isn't easy. We do it because it matters—and we intend to win."

In a tweet, Harris campaign spokesperson Ian Sams compared Harris' campaign to the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign and the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign, both of which faced moments of struggle during the lead up to their nominations. Both candidates lost their respective general elections.