Farouk Shami's campaign just experienced its second major shake-up in its young life. Shami's campaign manager Vince Leibowitz, press secretary Charlie Ray, communications director Kelly Love Johnson, and two other staffers have left the campaign.
This comes on the heels of a flurry of confusion surrounding the hiring of David Diaz, a media professional from Edinburg. Tuesday morning, after Diaz blasted a release to reporters criticizing Shami's opponent, Bill White, an internal campaign memo leaked asking "Who in the hell is David Diaz?...No one with the campaign has authorized these statements and whoever they are, they are sabotaging every bit of legitimacy Farouk has as a candidate…Seriously, can we hunt these people down and muzzle them?”
The hiring appears to have been done by Shami's corporate spokesperson Jessica Gutierrez, who has also been sending out campaign-related press releases. Shami did not seem as confused as his staff — he told the Austin American-Statesman's Corrie MacLaggan on Tuesday that both Gutierrez and Diaz are authorized to speak for the campaign.
"There was a major difference of opinion over strategy between the paid political professionals working for the campaign and other individuals on the campaign who were not paid political professionals," said Leibowitz. "Unfortunately, amongst that difference of opinion, it did not appear that the candidate was going to side with the political professionals."
Leibowitz et. al. replaced a group of top staffers, including spokesman Jason Stanford and campaign manager Joel Coon, who were fired three weeks into the campaign. Despite his departure, Leibowitz says he will still vote for Shami in the primary.
UPDATE: On Wednesday evening, Shami released a statement addressing the coming and goings (especially the goings) in his campaign. For those wondering who his next spokesperson will be — it will be Farouk Shami. "I am the spokesperson," he declares. Shami advises against underestimating his campaign, which he says is "stronger than ever!"
Here's the whole statement:
"I want to thank Vince Leibowitz, Kelly Love Johnson and Charlie Ray for their hard work on the campaign. After a meeting with my senior staff, we came to an understanding that there were strategic differences between a few of us. Three of my senior staff members resigned, so I accepted their resignations on amicable terms.
Please do not underestimate my camp because my campaign is stronger than ever! I am the spokesperson, and I have a Communications team that has experience and believes in my vision. This morning we all woke up ready to fight because today is just one more day closer to the election. We have our soldiers in place all over the state of Texas, working their hearts out for a candidate that is bringing them new ideas, new jobs and new hope for Texas. I look forward to victory on March 2nd."
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