Democrat Castro to fire staff in two states to focus on Iowa, Nevada

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Julian Castro will fire his campaign staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina to focus on the other early voting states of Iowa and Nevada, a person familiar with the campaign’s plans said on Tuesday.

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate former Housing Secretary Julian Castro speaks at a Democratic Party fundraising dinner, the Liberty and Justice Celebration, in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. November 1, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

The employees were notified on Monday and will cease their work next week, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Politico news outlet first reported the move.

Castro later on Tuesday confirmed he was putting more focus on Iowa and Nevada, two of the four early-voting states holding their nominating contests in February, as well as his home state of Texas.

Texas is among the states holding its primary on March 3, which is dubbed Super Tuesday because of the large number of nominating contests held that day. It comes on the heels of the primary in South Carolina, the last of the four early-voting states.

“I’m committed to this campaign and the more I get out there, the more folks see that we need a nominee that has a track record of getting things done,” Castro told MSNBC.

Castro, a former U.S. housing secretary as well as a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, has struggled to raise money in his long-shot bid for the Democratic nomination to face Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.

Rival Democrat Kamala Harris, a U.S. senator from California, last week announced her campaign was trimming staff and restructuring to focus more on a make-or-break effort in Iowa, which kicks off the nominating contests on Feb. 3.

Castro may be hoping to appeal to voters who had supported the other Texan in the Democratic race, former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, who dropped out last week.

Castro said a $50,000 television advertisement airing in Iowa was intended to raise his polling there to help him qualify for a Nov. 20 televised debate in Georgia. He has already met the fundraising threshold to participate in that debate but has yet to meet the threshold for standings in national or early-state polls to qualify.

“We’re going to focus a lot especially on Iowa and Nevada, and also, as we get closer to Super Tuesday, on Texas,” he told MSNBC, adding that he had gained endorsements from nine Texas Democrats who had supported O’Rourke.

“Texas can play a major role in such a fractured race in terms of who gets the nomination,” Castro said.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Simon Lewis; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Leslie Adler