News & Politics

This Campaign Is Cutting Almost Half Its Staff

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is streamlining his campaign, following his fourth-place showing in the Iowa caucus, the Washington Post‘s Robert Costa reported. Carson is set to lay off more than 50 paid staffers on Thursday, and to “significantly reduce” salaries. Contrary to rumors, however, the neurosurgeon is determined to stay in the 2016 presidential race.

Carson’s traveling entourage will shrink to only a handful of advisers. And instead of flying on private jets, Carson may soon return to commercial flights….The employees being released — about half of Carson’s campaign — mostly work in field operations and at his headquarters in Northern Virginia.

Carson’s staff confirmed to the Washington Post that the campaign’s funds have started to dry up as the neurosurgeon has fallen from the top tier. The campaign had swollen to about 125 people at the end of 2015, but after Carson’s fourth place showing in the Iowa caucus (with 9.3 percent of the vote) it will drop to fewer than 100. The campaign insisted that Carson’s senior staff, restructured in late December after several advisers resigned, will not change. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert F. Dees, Republican consultant Ed Brookover, and communications advisers Jason Osborne and Deana Bass will stay.

“Dr. Carson is going to get his campaign lean — really lean,” longtime Carson confidant Armstrong Williams told the Washington Post. He said the lay-offs have been under consideration for weeks but postponed until after Iowa. “One issue for a while has been too much infrastructure, and he has decided to fully address it so that he can sustain his campaign until the convention.”

Similar campaign shake-ups presaged the withdrawal of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Texas Governor Rick Perry from the presidential race last year.

Carson has accused Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign of circulating a false rumor the neurosurgeon was dropping out of the race, even before votes were cast in the Iowa caucus. Cruz has apologized, saying that his campaign merely sent out a news report which turned out to be inaccurate. Real estate tycoon Donald Trump took up the call, saying Cruz’s 27.6 percent Iowa win was illegitimate. Cruz responded by coining the term “Trumpertantrum.”

This year’s caucus had a record evangelical turnout. In 2012, 120,000 Iowans voted in the Republican caucus, and only 57 percent identified themselves as evangelical Christians. This year, 180,000 Iowans showed up at the caucus, and 64 percent identified as evangelical. Carson’s presence may have driven more evangelicals to the polls, but the neurosurgeon only took 12 percent of their votes, while Cruz took 34 percent.

In the last three months of 2015, Ben Carson’s campaign actually brought in more money than any other on the Republican side. His $23 million haul beat Cruz’s $20 million. But the neurosurgeon’s campaign also spent money more quickly, paying $27 million and only seeing a fourth-place finish in Iowa. Cruz spent only $15 million, leaving his campaign with $18.7 million cash-on-hand. Carson, by contrast, has only $6.5 million left, as of January 2016.