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Next? Julian Castro Lays Off Staff In Primary States Amid Campaign Struggles
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Democratic presidential candidate and former housing secretary Julian Castro takes the stage during the J Street National Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. Castro and three other presidential candidates were interviewed about Israel and U.S. foreign policy during the conference hosted by J Street, a political action committee that supports two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Obama Administration official Julian Castro is laying off his campaign staff in both New Hampshire and South Carolina and shifting the focus of  his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to Iowa and Nevada, according to a new report from Politico.

Castro reporteldy can no longer afford a significant presence in early primary states and notified his New Hampshire and South Carolina teams that they would no longer be needed Tuesday morning.

Politico’s source told the Washington, D.C.-based outlet that “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.”

It’s not a very likely scenario. Although Castro has been “instrumental” in shaping the policy debate among the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, according to Politico, he’s failed to capture the imagination of Democratic voters and, according to the pollsters at FiveThirtyEight, has never been able to clear 1% in any meaningful national poll.

Castro wasn’t even registering in New Hampshire polls and was at 1% in South Carolina, according to the most recent polling data. He’s at 1% in Iowa and at 1% in Nevada, where he’s hoping to capitalize on the high percentage of Hispanic voters (former vice president Joe Biden has a commanding eight-point lead over the next highest Democrat, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in Nevada).

Castro is now well behind even upstart campaigns, like businessman Andrew Yang’s, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s, and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson’s.

News of the Castro campaign’s demise has been long in coming, though. As recently as last week, the campaign was sending out desperate fundraising emails, begging supporters to help him raise $800,000 in ten days so that he could continue to purchase ad time in key states, according to USA Today.

“I’m asking you to fight for me like never before,” read Castro’s email plea. “If I don’t meet this deadline, I won’t have the resources to keep my campaign running. I’m counting on your $5 in this critical moment.”

“This isn’t a fundraising gimmick — it’s the transparency and honesty I have promised you since I entered this race,” the letter continued. “The truth is, for our campaign, these debates have offered our only guaranteed opportunity to share my vision with the American people. If I can’t make the next debate stage, we cannot sustain a campaign that can make it to Iowa in February.”

Iowa is now fewer than 100 days away, but the next 100 days will be critical to any candidate who wishes to stay in contention for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination beyond the first week of February.

Castro is hardly the first contender to scale back his campaign. Former Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke called it quits on his campaign over the weekend. New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand ended her bid in late summer. California Senator Kamala Harris has reportedly pulled back operations in early primary states to focus on Iowa, and is consolidating her Iowa staff in areas where she has the best chance to pick up potential caucus-goers.

Even some of the bigger names — Biden and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders — have cleared their calendars, though for Sanders, the problem isn’t financial, it’s physical. He had a heart attack last month.

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