Democratic Party presidential candidate Julian Castro has laid off campaign staff in South Carolina and New Hampshire, and will now focus his campaign funds on Iowa and Nevada. The staffs have already been notified.
The announcement came just days after Castro had announced that his funding efforts had brought in $800,000 in the last 2 weeks of October—cash his campaign sorely needed. Castro had said he needed the money if he was to stay in the race at all. In asking supporters for more funding, Castro was following his rival Corey Booker’s lead. Booker had reported a surge in donations after declaring in September that his race could be over without a cash boost.
Like Booker, Castro has a mountain to climb against well-known and well-funded Democratic candidates. Castro has repeatedly pointed to his status as an underdog to the campaigns of former Vice-President Joe Biden or Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Castro raised approximately $3.5 million in the third quarter of the year, but spent even more.
The only Latino in the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination, he now faces a battle to generate enough support in the form of donors (165,000 required by the Democratic National Committee) and a polling threshold of 3 percent in DNC-approved polls. Castro has the donors, but not yet the support in the polls. Having made it onto the stage for the first 4 Democratic Party presidential debates, Castro is aiming to qualify for the 5th on Nov. 20 in Atlanta, Georgia. He has thrown all his resources and energy into Iowa and Nevada, with five-figure ad campaigns in the former.
The Iowa caucuses will kick off the nominating calendar on Feb. 3, followed by the New Hampshire primary 8 days later, the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22, and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29.
The former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Castro (45) was the youngest member of Barack Obama’s cabinet as the 16th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014–2017.
Another Democratic Party hopeful who has had to tighten their belt is Kamala Harris, who laid off dozens of staff members and transferred more to focus on the Iowa caucuses. Harris’ campaign staff pointed out that John Kerry (2004) and John McCain (2008) had both resorted to major campaign restructuring, though they ultimately garnered the support of their party.
According to a memo from the Harris campaign, staff would be laid off at her campaign headquarters in Baltimore, while staff from California, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Baltimore will be transferred to Iowa.
An early favorite for the Democratic nomination, Harris now lies approximately fifth in recent polls, and double digits behind her more popular rivals.