Fisher Focusing on Portman as Campaign Does a Soft Reboot


Along with the departure of Campaign Manager Geri Prado, sources tell us there has been at least one addition to the finance staff, possibly coming along from Connecticut with new Campaign Manager, Jay Howser. There may be other changes over the next few days, but nothing significant at this point – and the campaign would not confirm if moves beyond Prado/Howser have occurred.

According to one source, the departure of Prado was the candidate’s decision, but the separation was mutual and professional. This wasn’t a desk-turning, security-escorted move. Furthermore, the move was less about the primary and more about the larger picture, specifically focusing more energy, focus, and resources to a battle with Rob Portman in the fall. There will be skeptics who claim Fisher is worried that Brunner is polling too close and the move of Prado to Howser is out of panic that the race is slipping away. I’m not sure I agree with that interpretation, only because I don’t think Team Fisher is overly concerned about Brunner at this point. (I happen to think they should be, but inside the walls of the campaign perceptions and internal polling may argue a different story).

The campaign did issue a policy release today on the recent Supreme Court ruling on corporate political spending – and the focus of the release was a challenge to Portman to stand with him against corporate money and influence.

From the release:

Fisher is proposing a series of steps for Congress to take to protect American democracy, including prohibiting foreign companies from interfering in our democracy, and requiring that the owners of American companies – the shareholders – approve of any political speech on their behalf.

Fisher Plan to Protect American Elections from Corporate Interference
1.   Ban any foreign company or foreign-owned U.S. subsidiary from spending money advocating the election or defeat of a candidate.

2.   Bar companies that receive grants, loans, funding or contracts from the federal government from direct advocacy in elections;

3.   Require shareholders and boards of directors to vote and approve of any political advocacy spending by U.S. corporations on American elections.

Whether this release is the beginning of a Portman-focused campaign remains to be seen. It’s not the first time Fisher has targeted Portman, but following a staff shake-up which could have philosophical differences as the motive, it’s something to keep an eye on. Should Fisher take to the airwaves with :30 spots, filled with the November talking points, you’ll know where their attention lies.

One last thing on Prado… While this move is newsworthy and potentially signaling a different direction for the campaign, it’s only fair to note that 10 months in politics is a lifetime. Just as cabinet members rarely last a full term, campaign staffs change frequently and for a wide variety of reasons. Campaign operatives basically uproot their lives on a day’s notice and move to new cities or states where they have no life beyond the campaign itself. It can lead to severe burn-out and in some cases even health issues. This is an exciting job and very rewarding, but the toll it takes is brutal. After a ten-month period in a meat grinder like a U.S. Senate campaign, it’s entirely possible that a reboot is good for everyone – the staff, the campaign and the candidate. Just something to keep in mind.