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Eye On Candidates
August 25, 2015

Bush’s Good Money Problems vs. Perry’s Bad Money Problems

Two weeks ago former Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced that his campaign would not be able to pay staff any longer, at least until fundraising picked up. The good news for Perry is that apparently he has managed to kick-start his fundraising program, although not in time to keep one of their key allies in Iowa. From Breitbart:

Back in Business? Rick Perry Paying Staff Again

Good news for former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX): – the campaign has resumed paying some of its staff after financial issues forced them to freeze pay….

Perry’s campaign launched a fundraising push that pulled in several hundred thousand dollars, but it was not clear when or if the campaign staff might be paid again. Then, Monday evening, Breitbart News spoke to Perry campaign manager Jeff Miller, who said that they “had started putting people back on the payroll in Iowa and South Carolina.”

This is not the entire staff — Perry’s campaign headquarters are in Austin, Texas and they also have some staffers in New Hampshire — but it is a positive sign that they were able to start resuming pay less than a month later.

The Breitbart article notes that Perry’s strategy is to focus heavily on holding events in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, which if he can pull it off might give him an edge over other underdog candidates who are focused on only a single state, either Iowa or New Hampshire, to propel their campaigns into contention.

But hopes for Iowa at least have probably dimmed a bit with the loss of one of Perry’s two co-chairs in the state. The Washington Post reports that conservative activist Sam Clovis has left the Perry campaign, presumably related to not being paid:

Rick Perry, whose presidential campaign is struggling to raise money and is no longer paying its staff, lost his Iowa campaign chairman on Monday.

Sam Clovis, one of Iowa's most prominent conservatives who had been leading Perry's campaign in the state, confirmed in an interview that he had left the Perry campaign in part because he was no longer being compensated. He said he is in conversations to sign up with another Republican candidate.

"I feel bad for the campaign and I feel bad for Governor Perry because I think he’s a marvelous human being, he’s a great man and it was my honor to be a part of this, but it was just time to move on," said Clovis, who is a talk radio personality, professor and former U.S. Senate candidate.

Perry’s money woes were mildly surprising because after 14 years as governor of Texas, he had an extensive network of donors built up in the Republican donor-rich state. But many of his donors appear to have been wooed by either fellow Texan Sen. Ted Cruz or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, according to CNN.

Speaking of Bush, his campaign seems to be proactively addressing a problem that most candidates would like to have, ensuring they are being frugal and wise with the significant amount of campaign dollars they have raised. According to The New York Times, the former Florida governor is seeking to conserve his campaign’s resources and head off any wasteful spending before it gets started:

Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign has asked various divisions to be mindful of their spending, in a reminder that despite his giant “super PAC” bankroll, campaign dollars are ultimately more valuable.

Campaign officials asked workers to tighten their belts a few weeks ago, according to two people briefed on the matter. In some cases, staff members’ paychecks shrank, these people said.

The cuts were not a result of fund-raising shortfalls, these people said, but were intended to correct needless spending before the campaign gets into the heat of the election season.

Bush has had a highly successful fundraising operation, so there’s no reason to doubt the campaign’s account. Fans of Bush concerned that it might follow the standard frontrunner campaign practice spending big to build a large organization overflowing with staff and consultants should be relieved to see the campaign’s steps to rein in spending at an early stage, which should help to ensure it won’t face the same types of money woes that Sen. John McCain did in 2008.

It seems that Perry may be getting back on track, but he has a long way go before he faces the sort of problem Bush is trying to head off. To borrow the “first-world problems” Internet meme, this is the difference between third-tier-candidate problems and first-tier-candidate problems.