Lean Times at Team Jeb

Rise to Rise director and overall Team Jeb strategist Mike Murphy may be perfectly happy with how the Invisible Primary is proceeding, but if you work for the actual campaign, you got some bad news today, per Politico‘s Isenstadt and Stokols:

Jeb Bush on Friday ordered across-the-board pay cuts to his struggling presidential campaign and warned staff that job functions would change.

On a Friday conference call, top officials said resources would shift heavily to ballot access and voter contact.

It’s probably not the best sign that the supposed Death Star of presidential campaigns is still messing around with ballot access issues, but maybe that’s all according to plan. Big layoffs and pay cuts aren’t.

One person on the Friday morning staff call said they were left with the impression that “very few people will be left in Miami.”

Danny Diaz led the call. Sally Bradshaw also spoke. So did general counsel Megan Sowards.

Although campaign officials insisted they’re still in strong shape, the moves — combined with Bush’s stagnant poll numbers, despite millions having been spent by his Right to Rise super PAC on television ads over the last month — suggest otherwise.

According to donors, some of whom called for Bush to rein in its spending, the campaign’s assurances that its organizational and financial advantages had worn thin; and the third quarter FEC report, filed last Thursday, gave further definition to their growing concerns about the state of the campaign.

“These donors are not finding these explanations by the Bush team believable,” said one bundler, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “There’s a lot of frustration that a lot of money’s been spent and it hasn’t moved anything.”

And that’s the real rub. It’s one thing to keep your powder dry and calmly follow a strategy of saving your big pots of money for the time when Republican voters are focusing on the nomination contest. It’s another thing altogether when you start spending pretty heavily on soft-focus positive ads highlighting Jeb’s supposed accomplishments in Florida and the numbers continue to deteriorate. That’s the dark path recently trod by Scott Walker, who is not running for president any more.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.