Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
When all the smoke and dust clears from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign and their nominee is decided, much is going to be written about how Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) campaign cratered so spectacularly after showing promise among Democratic voters early on in the first six months of her candidacy.
In fact, though the candidate herself hasn’t officially declared things are over, the New York Times wrote a campaign post-mortem of sorts on Friday with the headline “How Kamala Harris’s Campaign Unraveled”.
It was both a revealing and embarrassing indictment of just how far Harris’ political star has fallen 5 months after sideswiping then-frontrunner Joe Biden at the first debate and vaulting to top tier status immediately after:
Many of her own advisers are now pointing a finger directly at Ms. Harris. In interviews several of them criticized her for going on the offensive against rivals, only to retreat, and for not firmly choosing a side in the party’s ideological feud between liberals and moderates. She also created an organization with a campaign chairwoman, Maya Harris, who goes unchallenged in part because she is Ms. Harris’s sister, and a manager, Mr. Rodriguez, who could not be replaced without likely triggering the resignations of the candidate’s consulting team. Even at this late date, aides said it’s unclear who’s in charge of the campaign.
With just over two months until the Iowa caucuses, her staff is now riven between competing factions eager to belittle one another, and the candidate’s relationship with Mr. Rodriguez has turned frosty, according to multiple Democrats close to Ms. Harris. Several aides, including Jalisa Washington-Price, the state director in crucial South Carolina, have already had conversations about post-campaign jobs.
To add insult to injury and in addition to her polling and financial woes, newly declared presidential candidate and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg swiped one of Harris’ top aides away to join his campaign. Kelly Mehlenbacher, former state operations director for Harris, wrote a scalding resignation letter:
“This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly,” Kelly Mehlenbacher, then the state operations director for Harris’ campaign, said in the letter obtained by The New York Times. “While I still believe that Senator Harris is the strongest candidate to win in the General Election in 2020, I no longer have confidence in our campaign or its leadership.”
“It is not acceptable to me that we encouraged people to move from Washington, DC to Baltimore only to lay them off with no notice, with no plan for the campaign, and without thoughtful consideration of the personal consequences to them or the consequences that their absence would have on the remaining staff,” the letter says.
Harris has publicly blamed a variety of things for her campaign’s downward spiral, most notably the fact that she’s a woman of color, but very few people outside of those in her inner circle are buying it.
The Times piece also noted that current aides have, in part, blamed Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) for Harris’ accelerated decline in the polls, a claim that has some merit. But the fact remains that the decline started well before Gabbard’s blistering attack on Harris’ questionable record as California’s attorney general during the second Democratic debate, which was at the end of July.
After all, if you can’t run an effective national political campaign, just how do you plan on convincing people you can run the country?
— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 16+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –