Andy Harris campaign manager is out
When Republican congressional candidate Andy Harris hired a well-regarded campaign veteran to manage his 2010 run, party officials in Washington touted the move as a propitious sign.
It was evidence, they said, that next time would be different. Harris lost narrowly to Democrat Frank Kratovil in 2008, while Republican nominee John McCain was carrying the conservative First District by 20 points.
This year, on the advice of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Harris moved early to upgrade his campaign operation and field a more professional team. Campaign manager Mike Spellings was a prime exhibit in the Harris upgrade.
Now, Spellings has quietly left the campaign.
Spellings, who has helped run Republican campaigns in Minnesota, Virginia and Texas, says he wanted to pursue "other opportunities," which have yet to fully materialize.
Another Republican operative, speaking anonymously to discuss internal campaign dynamics, blamed a personality clash. Spellings and Harris were just a bad fit, this insider said.
The departure of his campaign manager is likely to put renewed focus on Harris's ability to run a first-class operation.
He has yet to hire a replacement. The Baltimore County state senator says he is "in the final stages" of making a choice and expects to bring on a new manager "in the beginning of the year."
Unless he gets tripped up in next September's primary, Harris could end up being favored to unseat Kratovil, one of the most endangered House Democrats in the country. But Republican state Sen. E. J. Pipkin, who lost a multi-candidate primary against Harris and incumbent Republican Wayne Gilchrest last year, has yet to say whether he'll try again.
The wealthy Pipkin has spurned an entreaty from former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a Harris backer, to stay out of the race. Harris says if Pipkin had made up his mind to run, "he'd be in the race."
Earlier today, Harris released a list of endorsements from 26 Republican members of the General Assembly who represent portions of the First District. Missing were the names of three Pipkin supporters from last year, Mary Roe Walkup, Michael Smigiel and Richard Sossi.
Some might take that as a clue that prominent Republicans are keeping their options open. Harris says he never asked Walkup, Smigiel and Sossi for endorsements. "I didn't really want to put them on the spot," he says.
Harris, a 52-year-old anesthesiologist from Cockeysville, says he's focused on a general election matchup against Kratovil and the issues of jobs, the economy, government spending and the federal budget deficit.
He's says he's resigned to being outspent but that his fund-raising is improving, with each calendar quarter yielding more than the last.
On Monday evening, Harris reports, Ehrlich helped him collect $20,000 at a Hunt Valley reception prior to the Ravens-Packers football game.
At least one person from Baltimore had something to cheer about when the night was over.