How Kamala Harris’s Campaign Unraveled

Representative Marcia Fudge, who has endorsed [Senator] Harris and is a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in an interview that the senator was an exceptional candidate who had been poorly served by some top staff and who must fire Mr. Rodriguez. But she also acknowledged that [Senator] Harris bore a measure of responsibility for her problems — “it’s her campaign” — and that the structure she created has not served her well.

…“You can’t run the country if you can’t run your campaign,” said Gil Duran, a former aide to [Senator] Harris and other California Democrats who’s now the editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee.

…Her assumptions about the issues that would inspire Democrats were also muddled: she began running on a tax cut aimed at lower- and middle-income voters and then turned to a pay raise for teachers.

…Then there was [Senator] Harris’s campaign message.

…After months of uncertainty, she’s back to embracing her role as a prosecutor.

[Senator] Harris said she was being deliberate, but several aides familiar with the process said she was knocked off kilter by criticism from progressives and spent months torn between embracing her prosecutor record and acknowledging some faults.

…The fact that [Senator] Harris is now banking on an Iowa-or-bust strategy highlights a major strategic miscalculation early on that set her off on the wrong track.

When she entered the race in January, she bet that the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire would matter less to her political fortunes than South Carolina, with its predominantly black Democratic electorate.

…What her campaign did not anticipate was that Mr. Biden would remain strong with many black voters, and that Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg would rise as threats in Iowa and New Hampshire. [The Peanut Gallery can not resist interrupting to point out that conventional wisdom says it plainly: “Don’t take NH for Granite.”]

…There are also generational fissures. One adviser said the fixation that some younger staffers have with liberals on Twitter distorted their view of what issues and moments truly mattered, joking that it was not President Trump’s account that should be taken offline, as [Senator] Harris has urged, but rather those of their own trigger-happy communications team.

…[She] bifurcated the leadership between two decidedly different loyalists: her sister, the chair, and Mr. Rodriguez, a trusted lieutenant who had managed her 2016 Senate campaign. Mr. Rodriguez was a central figure at the San Francisco-based consulting firm, SCRB, that had helped direct [Senator] Harris’s rise for a decade; all of the firm’s partners were lined up to advise the presidential race.

The two camps were soon competing, each stocked with people who shared a tight bond with [Senator] Harris but who regarded each other with suspicion or worse. The setup cost [Senator] Harris opportunities to recruit some of her party’s most sought-after outside strategists and left her reliant on a team less experienced in national politics [emphasis: Peanut Gallery] than in California, an overwhelmingly blue state where campaigns often turn on factional infighting within the Democratic Party.

…Dan Sena, a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, met early with [Senator] Harris’s team and came away concerned that they were overly reliant on political thinking shaped in California’s idiosyncratic political system

“Winning in California requires a different road map, between a top-two candidate system and the expensive TV markets,” Mr. Sena said. [emphasis: Peanut Gallery]

…One official recalled that during the flight from Oakland to Iowa on the night she announced her campaign in January, [Senator] Harris told senior members of her campaign team that she wanted to “go stealth.” However, instead of pursuing retail politics and introducing herself to voters in more intimate settings, as [Senator] Harris [seemed to have] suggested she preferred, her senior aides determined it was more important to cement herself in the top tier and play for “big, television moments,” as one put it.

“If you go big like that, you’ll never get a real understanding of the American people,” said Minyon Moore, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and a longtime admirer of [Senator] Harris. “Because we don’t live up there.”

…Messages from bookkeepers warning of financial strain went unheeded, according to [Mr. Rodriguez’s] critics, until cutbacks were inevitable.

…Harris and other members of the senior staff were enraged because they did not know the extent of the layoffs until after they happened. Some aides were informed about the mass firing of New Hampshire staff from junior aides and members of the press rather than Mr. Rodriguez.

How Kamala Harris’s Campaign Unraveled – The New York Times

Not. Ready. For. Prime-time.

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