COLUMBIA — As Cory Booker works to revive his struggling 2020 presidential campaign, the New Jersey Democrat now finds himself looking for a new field operations leader in the key early-voting primary state of South Carolina.
Booker's S.C. organizing director, Matt Handsfield, has left the campaign, he confirmed to The Post and Courier on Wednesday, citing undisclosed personal reasons.
The departure comes as Booker's campaign seeks to raise $1.7 million in the final days of the third fundraising quarter of 2019, with his campaign manager issuing a dire warning that he does not see a "legitimate path forward" unless they hit that goal.
Handsfield noted he had given notice of his plans to exit the campaign over two weeks ago, and Booker's South Carolina spokeswoman, Rhonda Rawlings, said the move is unrelated to the campaign's financial difficulties.
"I love everyone on the Booker team and wish them the best, and I'm actually still texting friends & family to help hit the $1.7 million," Handsfield said in a text message.
The campaign will now try to recruit a replacement for Handsfield, Rawlings said. An Atlanta native, Handsfield had most recently been deputy field director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party before joining Booker's team in South Carolina.
Organizing directors play a pivotal role helming a campaign's outreach to voters, leading teams of staffers and volunteers across the state as they go door-to-door and call voters to try to win them over.
All the major 2020 candidates have now built substantial staff operations in the Palmetto State as the campaign heads into the fall, with several hiring dozens of organizers around the state.
Booker has made South Carolina a top priority of his campaign, attending more events in the state than any other candidate. He has not yet been able to climb above low single digits in polls of likely S.C. Democratic primary voters.