Report: Staffers Desert Kamala Harris to Avoid Stigma of ‘Harris Person’ Label

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks about the recently signed infrastructure law will benefit Ohioans after touring the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 189 Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.
Jay LaPrete / AP Photo

Staffers are reportedly deserting Vice President Kamala Harris this month over fears of being labeled a “Harris Person” to the possible detriment of their careers.

As Harris strategizes her way to the presidency, pending President Biden’s decision whether to run for reelection, staffers are reportedly worried their tenure in the vice president’s office will damage their careers in Washington, DC.

The vice president’s office is apparently so toxic with infighting and disorder that some fear a resume with Harris’s name on it may cause “career harm,” Axios reported.

Polls reflect the staffers’ worries. A November poll revealed only 13 percent of registered Democrat voters would support Harris if Biden decides not to run again. The lack of support among Democrats for Harris is likely a factor staffers are taking into consideration for their next moves.

Harris’s staffers, often ambitious amid a cutthroat work environment, may be realigning their careers with someone they consider has better hopes of winning the 2024 election. Some have apparently indicated they would prefer to work for Biden’s team, while others are exiting the White House altogether.

But the departures from the vice president’s office are sure to impact Harris’s chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, who is under pressure to keep Harris’s 2024 hopes alive.

“If we mess this up, it’s going to set women back when it comes to running for higher office for years to come,” a Democrat operative told Axios.

Since November, four Harris staffers have either left or plan to leave Harris’ office in the coming weeks, capping months of internal strife. Staffers have complained the vice president’s office has “treated [them] like shit” in a work environment of “abuse.”

Other staffers have leaked frustration that “white man” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s potential 2024 presidential bid is “disrespectful” to their boss. Harris and her team are presumably concerned Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package will give him a boost over the vice president in a 2024 primary race.

Buttigieg, however, has downplayed his ambitions.

On Thursday, Harris and Buttigieg put on a “somewhat awkward” “united front” and traveled together for an infrastructure event in North Carolina. The day’s events gave Buttigieg an opportunity to stroke Harris’s ego as vice president.

“As transportation secretary I get to be the face of a lot of the investments that we’re doing, but we would not be here without the leadership of the vice president,” Buttigieg said. “So I am glad we’re able to shine a light on that today.”

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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