Hickenlooper shakes up campaign as he fails to gain traction

Posted at 8:07 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 14:22:17-04

John Hickenlooper is shaking up his campaign, multiple sources tell CNN, allowing his campaign manager, finance director and spokeswoman to leave as the former Colorado governor fails to gain traction in the expansive Democratic presidential primary field.

Hickenlooper is not on the cusp of dropping out of the race, a senior Democrat who spoke to the governor Monday night tells CNN. He has not sugarcoated things to his staff and has acknowledged how hard it has been to break through, the Democrat said, but he has no plans to leave before the debate later this month in Detroit.

“He’s staying in,” the senior Democrat said, adding that Hickenlooper will reassess after the debate.

Hickenlooper has been a moderate voice in a Democratic primary that has drifted leftward in recent months, making his opposition to democratic socialism — including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ political philosophy — central to his campaign.

Campaign Manager Brad Komar, Finance Director Dan Sorenson and Communications Director Lauren Hitt have all either left or are in the process of leaving Hickenlooper’s campaign, sources tell CNN. The staffers were not let go, the source said, and others could be leaving soon.

Komar told staffers on Monday that he is leaving the campaign, along with Sorenson, a source said. The announcement was made to the staff just before the campaign announced that M.E. Smith, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey’s campaign manager in 2018, would be managing the campaign.

Komar ran Hickenlooper’s successful reelection in 2014. Smith was Komar’s deputy during that campaign.

For as long as he stays in the race, a person close to Hickenlooper said, he will be surrounded by longtime, loyal aides in Colorado, most of whom — like Smith — worked for him when he was mayor or governor.

Following the first debate and with a lackluster fundraising quarter, Hickenlooper told staffers they were free to pursue other opportunities if they chose, saying he couldn’t guarantee how long their campaign jobs would last.

“Brad Komar is no longer with the campaign. Neither is Finance Director Dan Sorenson. I will also be transitioning out over the next few weeks,” Hitt said in a statement to CNN.

Democrats close to Hickenlooper, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he intends to reassess after the Detroit debate. In the meantime, Hickenlooper plans to keep up his travel schedule, including a trip to Iowa on July 7 and 8.

Sorenson, who was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s deputy national finance chair during the 2018 midterm election campaigns, will join former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign upon leaving Hickenlooper’s operation.

“We’re thrilled to have Dan join our team to bring more supporters into this campaign and ensure Beto’s message of building a new kind of politics where no American is left behind can reach voters across the country,” O’Rourke campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement.