The beleaguered office of the current vice president is suffering something of a staff exodus of late, and according to a new report from Axios, some of those choosing to depart are doing so to avoid what they fear would be the lasting negative stigma of being a “Harris person.”
A deluge of staff resignations has hit Kamala Harris’ camp in recent weeks, a phenomenon that began with word that the vice president’s communication director, Ashley Etienne, planned to leave her post this month, as The Hill reported.
Next up was senior Harris adviser and chief vice presidential spokesperson Symone Sanders, who announced this week that she would also be heading out for greener pastures at year’s end, according to Fox News.
Adding to the growing sense of chaotic discontent in Harris’ office was news this week that another two key aides were orchestrating their exits, namely, Peter Velz, vice presidential director of press operations, and deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, Vince Evans, as also reported by The Hill.
While it is certainly true that a certain amount of turnover at the White House is routine, these recent staff moves come at a time of increased speculation about possible strain between her office and that of President Joe Biden as well as doubts about her suitability as the Democrats’ presumptive heir apparent.
Harris has long faced significant criticism of her handling of the politically contentious tasks she has been assigned by Biden, especially that of the southern border crisis, and recent polling pegged her approval rating at a disastrous 28%, causing very real concern among party elite that she may do more harm than good when it comes to future electoral prospects.
Though the Axios report did indicate that among the reasons for staff departures in Harris’ office were things such as the availability of more lucrative opportunities, standard employee burnout, and personal or familial circumstances, it also emphasized that there is a real concern held by some about the risks of hitching one’s wagon to a potentially diminishing star, which the vice president – at least right now – appears to be.
According to Axios, some members of Harris’ staff are interested in playing a role in a Biden reelection campaign, with others wishing to distance themselves from the vice president in case another rising Democrat prospect launches a presidential campaign in the next cycle.
Only those who have submitted their resignations to the vice president know the real motivations behind the moves, but with a second Biden campaign appearing increasingly in doubt, and the political fortunes of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reportedly on the rise, rumored anxiety among Harris staffers about continuing a close affiliation with a sinking ship seems more than justified.