Staff salary cuts, negligible fundraising, and crummy polling are usually good indicators a campaign is on its last leg.
Thursday, Politico reported former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, cut his senior staffer’s salaries to reallocate resources to the Iowa battlefield.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, struggling with its low standing in the polls and underwhelming fundraising, slashed the salaries of senior staffers amid the departure of its top communications aide.
The salary reductions took place over the past few weeks, according to multiple Republican sources familiar with the Huckabee campaign’s operations. The reductions were limited to senior staff, according to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the candidate’s daughter and campaign manager.
The abrupt departure of Alice Stewart, Huckabee’s communications director, was partly due to disagreements within the communications shop about the direction of the campaign and partly because of the salary cuts, several Republicans inside and outside the campaign said.
Strategist Ed Rollins called the campaign a “dead campaign.”
“The campaign is being run by the family and it’s going nowhere. It’s a dead campaign,” said Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who ran Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign in 2012, was the campaign chairman for Huckabee’s 2008 bid, and who also talked to the former Arkansas governor about running in 2012. “And my sense is Alice is at a place in her life where she doesn’t want to work for the fees that she got eight years ago.”
Publicly, Huckabee chalked up Stewart’s departure to campaign fatigue, with the governor saying on CNN that she was simply “exhausted.” But Stewart, a marathon runner, shot back in response to questions from POLITICO that she is “far from exhausted.”
So drama. In any case, Huckabee’s campaign is putting all their eggs in the Iowa basket. If he doesn’t go home with the Iowa trophy, that will likely be the end of the road for yet another Huckabee White House bid.
Huckabee Sanders told POLITICO that the salary cuts would help facilitate the campaign’s redirection of resources toward Iowa, where the former Arkansas governor is hoping to replicate his 2008 victory.
As of Thursday, the campaign has 13 full-time paid staffers in Iowa. It will add at least five in another week or so and tack on a few more in the new year. “Right now our goal is we’re going to put a lot of our resources into Iowa, and that’s what we’re doing,” Huckabee Sanders said.
“Obviously, if we go to Iowa and lose — well frankly we probably won’t keep going,” Huckabee Sanders said. “If we end up at 2 percent in Iowa then, no, because nobody’s getting paid. But if we go and pull out a win in Iowa then I would assume probably it’s increase salaries.”
It’s hard to ignore the difficulty Huckabee has had in generating the level of interest he enjoyed in 2008, when he not only won Iowa but also ended up with 240 delegates in the Republican primary. This time, he’s lagged far behind most of the field in both fundraising — having raised only about $1.2 million in the most recently reported quarter, with roughly $760,000 cash on hand — and in polling, garnering just 2 percent support nationally and about the same in Iowa. Since October, he’s failed to qualify for the primetime GOP debates.
Gov. Huckabee started off just under 9% in the polls but has struggled to move the needle over 2% recently.
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