Perry stops paying staff as funding shrivels

Former Texas governor Rick Perry's presidential campaign has hit a rough patch in fundraising and is now an all-volunteer staff operation.

Perry, who failed to make the first-tier presidential debate last Thursday, and who failed to impress in the bottom tier debate, is now running a bare-bones campaign, with reduced travel and other expenses.  But his super-PAC is doing well, with $17 million in the bank.  While they cannot directly contribute to the Perry campaign, they can run ads and staff "get out the vote" organizations in the early states.

Washington Post:

Perry campaign manager Jeff Miller told staff last Friday, the day after the first Republican presidential debate, that they would no longer be paid and are free to look for other jobs -- and, so far at least, most aides have stuck with Perry -- according to this Republican.

"As the campaign moves along, tough decisions have to be made in respect to both monetary and time related resources," Miller said in a statement. "Governor Perry remains committed to competing in the early states and will continue to have a strong presence in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina."

Katon Dawson, Perry's South Carolina campaign chairman and head of a six-person staff there, said, "Money is extremely tight. We all moved to volunteer status." But, he added, "Our team is working as hard as it was last week."

News that Perry campaign had stopped paying its staff in South Carolina was first reported late Monday afternoon by the National Journal. News that the campaign was not paying any staff was first reported Monday night byCBS News.

The Perry campaign reported raising $1.14 million in the second quarter of this year and on July 15 reported having $883,913 on hand. The campaign is scaling down its expenditures to bare essentials -- commercial plane tickets and hotel rooms for the candidate and an aide or two -- and hoping for a breakthrough moment, perhaps in the Sept. 16 debate, that could boost fundraising.

Meanwhile, a group of Opportunity and Freedom super PACs promoting Perry's candidacy -- which are in far healthier state financially, having raised nearly $17 million by mid-July -- are planning to compensate for the shrinking campaign.

Austin Barbour, senior adviser to the super PAC, said the group would step up "to aggressively support the governor in a number of different ways."

“We’ve got plenty of money," Barbour said. "That’s what I know. And we’re going to put that money to use in Iowa to make sure the governor is in the top three there. The super PAC is not going to let Rick Perry down."

It's encouraging that so many staffers have agreed to stay on with no pay, but that's not going to last long.  Most of those staffers have almost certainly put out feelers to other campaigns to see if they can latch on somewhere else.  It's only prudent to do so, although I imagine most of them will try to stick it out through the September 16 debate. 

It's looking as though that September debate is going to be a major winnower of the field.  In addition to Perry, you have to think candidates like Jim Gilmore and George Pataki will take the hint and drop out if they fail to make a splash.  Meanwhile, other low-rated candidates like Chris Christie and John Kasich probably have enough money to show up in Iowa, although whether they can compete with the top-tier candidates remains to be seen.

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