2020 longshot Castro laying off campaign staff in New Hampshire, South Carolina

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro is laying off his campaign staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina, two of the first four early-voting states in the primary and caucus nominating season.

The former San Antonio, Texas mayor who later served as Housing secretary in then-President Barack Obama’s cabinet will now focus his campaign on Iowa, which kicks off the nominating calendar, and Nevada, which votes third. The news – first reported by Politico – was confirmed early Tuesday by Fox News with a source close to the Castro campaign. The small staffs in both New Hampshire and South Carolina were notified on Monday.

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The move by the Castro campaign comes just a few days after it announced on Friday that it brought in $800,000 in the last 10 days of October, a haul Castro had said was necessary to continue his uphill bid for the Democratic nomination.

But reaching that goal didn’t erase the steep fundraising hurdles facing the campaign. Castro, who launched his longshot bid last December, has frequently spotlighted his underdog status as he runs for the nomination against many much better-known and better-funded rivals.

Castro made the stage for the first four rounds of Democratic presidential primary debates, but has yet to qualify for the fifth round, which will be held on Nov. 20 in Georgia. The candidate has reached the individual donor threshold but remains short of reaching the polling criteria.

In a fundraising email on Monday, Castro campaign officials warned that their candidate was in jeopardy of not making the debate stage and said that they were “launching IMMEDIATE digital ads” to help them clinch “the final polls Julian needs to qualify.”

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Castro, the only Latino among the major Democratic White House hopefuls, will now pour his remaining resources into Iowa – where he launches a five-figure ad buy on Tuesday – and Nevada. He’ll also concentrate on his native Texas, which votes on Super Tuesday, directly after the early voting states. The other Texan in the nomination race, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, ended his White House bid on Friday.

Castro raised roughly $3.5 million during the July-September third quarter of fundraising, but spent nearly $4 million in the same period. Castro has just $670,000 cash on hand at the start of October, but raised $1 million last month.

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro signs the famed wooden eggs as he headlines 'Politics and Eggs' at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, NH in January, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro signs the famed wooden eggs as he headlines 'Politics and Eggs' at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, NH in January, 2019

Eyebrows were raised in New Hampshire in recent days as Castro’s campaign had yet to schedule a date for their candidate to file in person to place his name on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary ballot. The source close to the campaign said it was unclear if Castro would file in person.

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The move by Castro follows a similar step made last week by Sen. Kamala Harris. The California Democrat, hemorrhaging campaign cash, dramatically cut her staff in New Hampshire and closed all of her field offices in the first primary state, as she continues to concentrate all of her resources on Iowa.