Kamala Harris

The Hill

By Amie Parnes and Jonathan Swan
November 21, 2015 – 03:46 pm

Turmoil and lackluster funding in California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s Senate campaign has some Democratic operatives wondering what’s gone wrong.

Harris this week replaced campaign manager Rory Steele with Juan Rodriguez, who was serving as the campaign’s senior adviser.

Harris’ team is also cutting costs to control its high rate of spending, which threatens to overtake the money flowing into the campaign account. These changes follow departures by two finance directors earlier this year.

The California Attorney General — who has close ties to President Obama —remains the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and win election to the Senate, but the problems are leading to calls for additional changes.

Critics point to Harris’s own personality as the reason for some of the problems.

“She’s perceived as very, very difficult to work for,” one strategist familiar with the campaign told The Hill. “She doesn’t have real relationships and partnerships. She has acquaintances.”

The fundraising numbers point to the problem, the strategist said.

“Here she is, she’s running for Senate, as an African American woman, she should be raising gobs of money,” the source said. “The fact that she’s raising one and a half to 2 million a quarter, is absurd.

“She expects fundraisers who helped Obama to help her…She gets upset when donors don’t flock to her, it drives her crazy that she actually has to meet and talk with people,” the source added.

A spokesman for Harris’s campaign dismissed much of the criticism, saying Harris is a strong fundraiser and that the changes she has made will help her.

“Like every campaign, we’re making adjustments in alignment with our strategy to win,” spokesman Nathan Click said.

“Kamala Harris has proven herself to be one of the strongest fundraisers in the country this election cycle and our campaign is going to have the resources to win in June and November,” he added. “We are making some additional reductions to our consultants and staff to put our campaign in the strongest position to win.”

Since announcing her bid for the Senate in January, Harris has raised $5.9 million and spent $2.6 million, at a relatively high burn rate of 44 percent. In the most recent fundraising quarter, Harris raised $1.7 million and spent $1.4 million at an even higher burn rate of 82 percent, according to Federal Elections Commission filings.

Her main rival, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), has a burn rate of just 25 percent, but is raising significantly less money.

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