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Borders campaign manager explains staff changes

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.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. J. Campbell July 12, 2009 2:36 pm


    1.) She just fired her entire staff.
    2.) She spent almost all her $.
    3.) She’s way behind in the polls.

    So, she had 4 months to take on Kasim Reed and gain significant ground on Norwood – all with a brand new staff and no money. LOL – good luck.Report

  2. Richard H July 16, 2009 11:18 am

    Mr. Campbell,
    I highly doubt Lisa Borders is finished. Here’s why:

    In the three months that she has been back in the race, she has managed to raise more money than Mary and almost as much as Kasim. She is at a clear disadvantage yet is clearly competitive. Everyone knows that it takes a little while for campaigns to ramp up, and I believe hers is still in the ramp-up phase. Mary’s fundraising has plateaued, and from what I hear Kasim is holding onto his money like it’s his life.

    But to address your concerns:
    1) She did not fire her entire staff. Verna was only on to get her back into the race, everyone knew this from the onset. The transition was a professional one, and it was planned way ahead of time.

    2) She has only spent half of the money that she has raised, but mind you since she is just starting up her campaign again, that includes expenses that most candidates have already accounted for earlier. I would also encourage you to take a drive downtown: she’s the one with billboards, Kasim and Mary are playing catchup. Money is not a problem for Lisa Borders.

    3) Please show me one poll that says she’s behind, much less “way behind”. Even though there have hardly been any objective ones (because it is still relatively early in the race), the ones that I’ve seen have been favorable for Lisa. Poll rhetoric like “way behind in the polls” when the race is just getting off of the ground doesn’t help anything, Mr. Campbell.

    So, in four months she has managed to raise more money than Mary (even though Mary’s been at it for a year), she’s spent her money where she needs to, and she’s being very strategic with her campaign placement. You go ahead and “LOL”, I’ll be watching the race.


  3. Rick Blalock July 28, 2009 3:28 pm

    Oh by the way, the campaign insider, whoever he or she is is incorrect. Rick Blalock was not an employee of the staff, but a contracted consultant and the contract ended mutually, so he joined the calvacade of staff managers who decided to leave the campaign. Facts over rumors always work best in journalism, but that insider probably is NOT a real journalist, i suppose.Report


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