Two top aides to Dr. Ben Carson’s presidential campaign—campaign manager Barry Bennett and communications director Doug Watts—are resigning from Carson’s campaign on New Year’s eve.
“Barry Bennett and I have resigned from the Carson campaign effective immediately,” Doug Watts, a former Ronald Reagan administration official, said in a statement.
We respect the candidate and we have enjoyed helping him go from far back in the field to top tier status. Having just announced raising $23m for the 4th Q, more than any other Republican candidate, and passing 1 million contributions and and over 600 k unique donors since March, we are proud of our efforts for Dr Carson and we wish him and his campaign the best of luck.
It’s unclear at this time exactly why they stepped down. But Carson in recent days has hinted at a campaign shake-up coming.
“We’re going to certainly be altering some things in the campaign, and we will be talking about that quite publicly next week,” Carson said in a recent interview with Fox Business.
The Washington Post’s Bob Costa and Jose DelReal recently reported that Carson was planning to look at reorganizing his campaign.
“I’m looking at every aspect of the campaign right now. Everything is on the table, every job is on the table. And we’re going to analyze it very carefully,” Carson said in an interview with the Post. “It’s not perfect, and we’re going to work on it.”
Carson subsequently cast doubt on that piece.
“I think The Washington Post quite frankly had their story already written before they talked to me, and they were convinced that I was going to fire everybody and we were going to go in a completely different direction,” he said in a CNN interview. “I think the people that I have are spectacular.”
But it turns out both Watts and Bennett have now stepped down.
It’s unclear where things go from here for Carson, a political outsider who at one time rivaled GOP frontrunner Donald Trump in polling but has slipped back behind fellow outsider Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). While Carson’s team says it raised more than Cruz in the fourth quarter of 2015—Carson’s team says they pulled in $23 million, while Cruz’s says he pulled in nearly $20 million—Cruz has pulled past Carson into second place in the 2016 GOP presidential primary polling. Most analysts believe that Carson’s supporters have drifted to Cruz over the course of Carson’s deflation in polling.
A campaign shake-up this late in the cycle–just a month before voters in Iowa head to the caucuses–isn’t usually a good thing. But it could give, if done just right, Carson a boost heading into election day.