Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

Abel Maldonado speaks to reporters in Sacramento on May 8, 2013.

Three top staffers quit Abel Maldonado’s campaign for California governor

Published: Friday, Sep. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Friday, Sep. 13, 2013 - 7:50 am

Abel Maldonado’s chief strategist, media strategist and campaign manager have all left his campaign for governor, the latest in a series of setbacks for the Republican former lieutenant governor.

Fred Davis, Maldonado’s media strategist, and Jeff Corless, his campaign manager, left the campaign within the last several weeks, as did communications, fundraising and digital staff members. John Weaver, Maldonado’s chief strategist, left the campaign shortly before the others, Davis said.

“Abel is a really, really nice guy, but he likes to run his own show, and raising money is not his favorite thing to do,” Davis said. “Weaver and Abel got along great for a while, and then they battled a bit. Abel, he likes to run his own thing.”

Davis said Maldonado was resistant to advice from advisers to focus more on raising money. Maldonado finished the first half of the year about $3,348 in debt, raising little money while spending more than $185,000 on campaign consultants between mid-April and June.

Maldonado nodded at campaign costs when asked about his advisers’ departure.

“My campaign has never been more financially sound, efficient and moving in the right direction, and I owe it to everyone who has invested in my campaign to make sure every penny is spent wisely,” he said in a text message.

Ron Nehring, former chairman of the California Republican Party, said he is helping Maldonado assemble a campaign team and will have one in place by early October.

Asked about the contention that Maldonado focused too little on fundraising, Nehring said, “I think that Abel Maldonado is one of the hardest-working candidates I’ve met in my 25 years in politics.”

Nehring said a campaign takes a “terrific amount of synergy” and that “sometimes it takes some changes” in the campaign team.

Brandon Gesicki, a friend of Maldonado and former adviser to him, said Maldonado let Weaver and the other strategists go because they were charging an exorbitant amount and failing to perform. “He was tired of paying their salaries,” he said.

Weaver, who advised John McCain in his failed presidential bid, had denied he was leaving the campaign when he was first asked about it in July.

Maldonado is preparing to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown in next year’s election. His campaign has stumbled from the start.

Following a news conference in May at which Maldonado announced a ballot initiative to repeal California’s prison realignment program, he came under criticism for highlighting a photograph of an offender who was not released from prison under the program.

Brown has not yet said if he will seek re-election, but he is widely expected to run. The state is so heavily Democratic that even Republicans believe the third-term governor will be difficult to defeat.

“We’ll be able to see how successful Abel’s strategy is,” Davis said.

Asked what that strategy is, he said, “I don’t really know.”

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.

Read more articles by David Siders

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