Hickenlooper’s Campaign Manager, Finance Director Are Out As His White House Bid Claws For Traction

Election 2020 DebateElection 2020 DebateAP
Democratic presidential candidate former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks during the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Top members of former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's campaign are departing in a major shakeup as the brewpub owner-turned-politician tries to turn around his struggling presidential bid.

Campaign manager Brad Komar and national finance director Dan Sorenson have left the campaign. Spokeswoman Lauren Hitt confirmed their departures and said she, too, will exit the campaign in the coming weeks.

The departures come after the close of the second quarter of campaign fundraising. Hickenlooper is expected to lag well behind the Democratic National Committee's benchmark of 130,000 donors needed to qualify for the debate stage in September — one of several candidates who could fail to meet that threshold.

Hickenlooper, who served two terms as governor, has struggled to gain attention in the crowded Democratic field. He has touted moderate positions and repeatedly warned Democrats they risk being tagged as socialists by tacking too far to the left.

But with several candidates, and many Democratic voters, embracing more liberal positions, Hickenlooper's message — or at least the messenger — has failed to resonate. He was roundly booed last month at the California Democratic Party convention when he condemned socialism.

Hickenlooper's team projected optimism about the future, announcing that the candidate had hired a new campaign manager, M.E. Smith.

"M.E. has shown again and again that she knows how to lead successful campaigns in politically-difficult terrain," Hickenlooper said in a statement. "With her extensive experience in political strategy, campaign management, and policy, I could not be more excited to have her leading the team."

Smith ran Sen. Bob Casey's successful 2018 re-election campaign in Pennsylvania. She was Hickenlooper's deputy campaign manager in 2014, when Komar ran the governor's successful re-election effort amid a Republican wave.

At least one of Hickenlooper's departing staffers was headed to a rival campaign. Sorenson, the finance director, will join former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke's campaign, O'Rourke's team confirmed late Monday.

Sorenson's departure had been in the works for some time. He previously notified the campaign that he intended to leave but stayed on until the end of the second fundraising quarter, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.