By Maria Saporta
It’s not unusual for campaigns to change over their staff, said Stacey Abrams, the new campaign manager for Lisa Borders’ mayoral bid.
Abrams spoke to me on Friday explaining all the changes that have occurred. That includes Abrams coming on board July 1 as the new campaign manager, replacing Verna Cleveland; and the replacement of five other key campaign officials.
“With the exception of one, every one resigned,” Abrams said, adding that the former staff members have worked closely with the campaign during the transition. “Verna has been incredibly generous in sharing information with me.”
(According to another campaign insider, the one exception was Rick Blalock, the communications director, who was relieved of his duties).
Abrams, an attorney who serves as Georgia state representative and who once worked as deputy city attorney for the city of Atlanta, said there was a mutual decision to shift the focus from the campaign as it enters the “hard stretch” from now until the election on Nov. 3.
She also added that City Council President Borders’ mayoral campaign has had unique challenges. Borders dropped out of the race last summer for family reasons, and then she decided in April to get back in the race.
As a result, the campaign has had a compressed amount of time to launch a full-fledged effort to get Borders elected. The skills needed in the start-up are different than the skills that are needed to implement a campaign strategy.
“Campaigns are won on the field, and fund-raising pays for the field,” Abrams said. “It’s retail politics. A candidate has to touch every hand.”
Among the new members of the Border campaign staff are: Aqualyn Laury as deputuy campaign manager; Lewanna Heard as field director; Ayesha Khanna as fundraising director; Khalil Thompson as campaign strategist and Liz Flowers as communications director.
Borders two major opponents are City Councilwoman Mary Norwood and State Sen. Kasim Reed.