Thursday, July 21, 2011

Huntsman's Campaign Manager Resigns

From: Hotline On Call

Just one month after overseeing Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's presidential campaign launch, Susan Wiles is leaving the struggling operation.

The campaign manager said Thursday that she was leaving of her own volition and denied any conflicts with other staff. "This was my decision,'' she said. "It was more about feeling like it was time."

"I'm less of a strategist and more of a start-up person," she added.

Wiles most recently ran Florida Gov. Rick Scott's winning campaign in 2010 and said it was time for a break. The Huntsman campaign was based in Orlando, about 130 miles northeast of her home in Ponte Vedra.

In a statement, senior Huntsman adviser John Weaver praised Wiles, but the shakeup nonetheless raises questions about the viability of the former Utah governor's campaign. It has struggled to gain traction since Huntsman returned from his role as U.S. ambassador in China in the spring.

"Susie has served the campaign well and was vital in getting it off the ground in such a short time-frame. In just under three months Governor Huntsman has returned from China, launched a campaign and created a strong infrastructure in the three early primary states," Weaver said. "He's built important relationships with donors, as well as political, policy, and grassroots leaders that other candidates have been courting for half a decade."

"Now the campaign is moving into phase two which will be more aggressive from a messaging and tactical standpoint and Matt is prepared to take that on," he said.

Wiles said, "There's a strategy, and I think the campaign is in a good place."

Asked if she would serve as an informal campaign advisor, Wiles said, "Once you resign you don't want to be in someone else's hair.''

She will be replaced by Huntsman's communications director, Matt David.

The Washington Post first reported the story.

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