Julián Castro’s campaign will fire its staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina, a source familiar with the campaign told POLITICO. The campaign notified the state teams on Monday and their final day will be next week.
The source said the campaign will continue focusing on Iowa and Nevada with a $50,000 television ad buy in Iowa beginning Tuesday morning. The moves amount to a long-shot attempt to remain in the presidential contest in the hopes of catching fire before the first contests begin next February.
Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama, has had success in framing — and, in some cases, starting — the Democratic primary’s policy debates but has struggled to raise money or raise his poll numbers above low single digits.
Asked for comment, the Castro campaign pointed POLITICO to its statement last week when news of an Iowa-Nevada focus first surfaced.
Castro is not alone in having to cut staff recently in the face of weak polling and fundraising. Sen. Kamala Harris also recently restructured her team and has gone all-in on Iowa while several other candidates such as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke have decided to drop out rather than make deep staff cuts.
In order to appear on the next debate stage, Castro needs to hit 3 percent in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee or 5 percent in DNC-approved early-state surveys. He hasn’t met the mark in a single poll but he does have until Nov. 13 to qualify for the Nov. 20 debate in Atlanta.
In its latest fundraising appeal Monday, the Castro campaign warned that the only Latino presidential candidate was in jeopardy of being left off the debate stage but said it was launching “IMMEDIATE digital ads” to reach voters and clinch the polls Castro needs to qualify for the debate.
Another fundraising email sent earlier Monday claimed Castro was “so close” to qualifying. Castro’s campaign raised $3.5 million over the last quarter but spent nearly $4 million over the same three months, ending September with just $670,000 cash on hand.
The campaign launched a desperate plea to raise $800,000 in the final 10 days of October, alerting supporters that Castro would be forced to end his campaign unless he could raise those funds by Halloween. The campaign announced Friday it met that goal.
Colin Strother, a Democratic strategist in Texas who once advised Castro, said the campaign spent too much money last quarter.
“That can’t happen again,” he warned. “This concept of running a national campaign is great in concept, but it’s bleeding them dry.”
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