Only days after Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her campaign would set its sights on Iowa at the expense of other early primary states, Kelly Mehlenbacher, the Iowa operations director for the Harris campaign, wrote a scathing letter of resignation, calling out the campaign for its poor treatment of staff and ineffective leadership.
“This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly,” wrote Mehlenbacher in the resignation letter, according to 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,” continued Mehlenbacher. “It is unacceptable that we would lay off anyone that we hired only weeks earlier. It is unacceptable that with less than 90 days until lowa we still do not have a real plan to win.”
“Campaigns have highs and lows, mistakes and miscalculations, lessons learned and adjustments made. But because we have refused to confront our mistakes, foster an environment of critical thinking and honest feedback, or trust the expertise of talented staff, we find ourselves making the same unforced errors over and over. And, it certainly does not help the team to read about campaign discord in Politico (or various other publications) because those with things to say have decided the best way to air their grievances is in the press instead of to leadership.”
Infighting at the Harris campaign was previously highlighted by Politico earlier this month. The news agency noted that the complaints focused on the power dynamic between two senior staffers: Juan Rodriguez, the campaign manager, and Maya Harris, campaign chairwoman and younger sister to Kamala Harris.
Although Mehlenbacher wrote that she still believes Harris has the best chance of beating President Trump in a general election, she has since joined the Bloomberg campaign as a deputy chief operating officer, according to the New York Post.
The resignation letter was published as part of an extensive New York Times investigation to determine how the Harris campaign “unraveled.” The investigation involved interviews with “more than 50 current and former campaign staffers and allies,” and revealed other particularly weak areas within the campaign, including the fact that young, far-left communications staffers had a distorted view of what issues matter to voters.
Despite representing a state with nearly 40 million people, Harris is currently polling in fifth place, almost 10 points behind Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, according to the RealClear Politics average. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who has no prior political experience, is in sixth place, and polling within one point of Harris.
The next Democratic presidential primary debate will be held at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California on December 19th, and will be hosted by PBS and Politico.