Six staffers have left Mayor Betsy Hodges’ campaign less than two months before the election, the second campaign shake-up in six months for the incumbent.
Hodges’ campaign manager, Mike Pfarr, declined to comment. A spokeswoman confirmed six people have resigned, including communications director Alida Tieberg, senior staff member Jim Niland and four others.
Five staff members who worked for the campaign — including Tieberg and Niland — did not return messages from the Star Tribune on Wednesday.
The campaign reorganization is the latest in a series of setbacks for Hodges. The mayor was criticized for leaving Minneapolis in the week after Justine Damond’s death for a fundraiser in Los Angeles, and was embroiled for weeks in a legal dispute — which she won — over the timing of the release of her detailed 2018 budget.
And Hodges’ fundraising is lagging. Her campaign reported having $54,901 in cash on hand at the end of July, but also $75,500 in debt to Hodges personally, and $24,217 in unpaid bills to five vendors.
In a statement released Wednesday responding to questions about the resignations, Hodges spokeswoman Alex West Steinman said, “We have had several staff leave who came on early in the process, and we’re happy that they stayed through the summer. We’re grateful for all the work they did for the campaign. Now we’re in the home stretch, we are fully-staffed, and we have the experienced team in place that will lead us to victory.”
Steinman said the campaign has fewer than 10 staffers, plus consultants and many more volunteers. Campaign turnover is “fairly common,” she said, and Hodges has the “utmost confidence” in her campaign manager, Pfarr.
City Pages, citing anonymous sources, first reported the resignations on Wednesday.
The shake-up is the second one for Hodges’ campaign, after former campaign manager Jorge Contreras and organizing director Kyrstin Schuette left in April.
Hodges is running for re-election against a crowded field of challengers, including Council Member Jacob Frey, Nekima Levy-Pounds, DFL state Rep. Ray Dehn, Tom Hoch and several others. The election is Nov. 7.
None of the other campaigns said they had hired an ex-Hodges staffer recently. The Dehn, Frey and Levy-Pounds campaign declined to comment.
Hoch’s campaign manager, Kieran McCarney, said he “can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a bunch of staff at this point in the election.”