No presidential campaign has ever shaken up its senior staff when things were going well. It may seem like common sense – well-run operations moving in the right direction don’t have an incentive to change – but it’s a fact that makes development on Jeb Bush’s team hard to overlook.
We’ve known for quite a while, for example, that veteran Iowa operative David Kochel would lead Bush’s campaign operation. At least, he was supposed to – as the New York Times reported, the former Florida governor has already made a major change at the top of his team.
The final decision was made only in the last few days, but word of turmoil in Jeb Bush’s organization, and a coming change, had been in the air for weeks.On Monday, Mr. Bush’s aides announced a shuffling of the deck, with David Kochel, the veteran Iowa operative who was expected to be campaign manager, moved to the chief strategist role. Danny Diaz, a Washington-based communications strategist who had been involved with media issues, will become the campaign manager.
A Washington Post report added, Diaz’s promotion “is a frank acknowledgment that Bush’s six-month ‘exploratory phase’ has not met expectations.” Quite right. Bush expected to enter the race as a powerful frontrunner leading a crowded GOP field of also-rans. Instead, the Florida Republican has seen his support stagnate; he’s clearly failed to intimidate potential rivals; and he’s confronted with unexpected doubts about his long-term viability.
Swapping campaign managers at this early stage is as close as we’ll get to Bush conceding that his operation is not working as it should.
Of course, the standard response is that the former governor didn’t technically change campaign managers because, at least on paper, Bush hasn’t officially launched a campaign. But for those looking at the race realistically, Bush kicked off the race months ago and has been running hard for months. This was a staff shake-up, not an example of moving some players around on a roster before opening day.
As for Diaz’s background, this will not be his first prominent role on a national campaign. BuzzFeed’s report noted that Diaz “was a senior adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012, deputy communications director for John McCain in 2008, and a regional press secretary for George W. Bush in 2004.”