Just before the general election fight, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer is shaking things up in his campaign.
Longtime advisor Tom Mason has left, the campaign will quickly bring on a new campaign manager and perhaps a new campaign advisor, according to multiple Republican sources.
"Tom Mason is going to step back," said Bill Walsh, Emmer's deputy campaign manager. He said Mason has been a "huge advisor" to the campaign since Emmer started running.
Mason said that he left the campaign "disappointed" and "heartsick" because he couldn't spent more time with the campaign.
"This is a perfect time to do this," said Mason, who said he spent 50 hours a week with the Emmer campaign last week and simply didn't have the time to devote to it, given his other businesses.
Walsh also said, "We have been working on adding to the team" but said he had nothing else to report Friday morning.
But several Republican sources said that Emmer is looking to hire a campaign manager and Cullen Sheehan, who managed former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman's 2008 campaign, is the man for the job. While his hiring was not a done deal Friday, a source said it soon could be.
Sheehan also worked for the Republican National Committee for a year and is a former executive director of the Iowa Republican party. Sources say he is trusted for his experience and acumen both in Minnesota and in national Republican circles.
The shakeups come at a time when Emmer has lagged in the polls when matched against Democrats. Three recent polls showed any of three DFLers leading him in a November fight. A SurveyUSA poll, released Thursday, also found he had soft support among traditional Republican voters, including anti-abortion and pro-gun voters.
Emmer also has had some well publicized campaign issues. He inadvertently set off a firestorm last month when he suggested changes to the minimum wage restaurant servers receive and his campaign has been smacked as gay activists around the country beat up on Target company for contributions to a group that ran ads in his favor. DFL and labor friendly groups have run tough ads against him and all three DFL candidates have gone after him.
"It's been a tough month for sure," said Walsh.
Although Emmer posted decent fundraising numbers last month, he was outraised by all three Democrats running for governor. DFLers Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza brought in more cash largely through their personal wealth. The third DFLers vying in the Aug. 10 primary Margaret Anderson Kelliher outraised him through contributions alone, despite the competition she faced from Dayton and Entenza.
Emmer's campaign has already had two managers -- David FitzSimmons led the campaign through the GOP convention this spring and state Rep. Mark Buesgens took over after FitzSimmons left to work for the Republican Party. Neither had led a statewide campaign before signing on with Emmer.
Sources said that Emmer was very loyal to the people in the campaign and resisted anyone else coming on but, before the general election fight starts Wednesday, it became clear the organization needed changes.
One source said the word of changes was "a desperately needed good news story."