PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democrat Helena Foulkes has quietly parted ways with her campaign manager for the second time since she launched her bid for governor, 12 News has learned.
Sam Rivers departed as Foulkes’ campaign manager “about a month ago,” spokesperson Audrey Lucas confirmed Tuesday. Rivers had replaced Foulkes’ first campaign manager, Emma Caccamo, last winter.
Asked whether Foulkes plans to hire a third campaign manager, Lucas said, “We do not have plans to backfill that exact role.”
The day-to-day effect of Rivers’ departure on the Foulkes operation has likely been limited. Her campaign has effectively been run from the start by two senior advisors, Jonathan Blair and Jon Romano, who are both former aides to Gina Raimondo.
“As has been the case since October, Jon Blair and Jon Romano will continue to lead the campaign,” Lucas said. “We are more confident than ever about our path to victory and look forward to winning the primary this September.”
Still, the loss of a second campaign manager is another example of internal flux for Foulkes, a political newcomer who was previously a top executive at CVS Health.
Foulkes initially hired as her media consultant Mark Putnam, who crafted the TV ads for Raimondo’s 2014 and 2018 gubernatorial campaigns. But earlier this year she replaced Putnam with Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist with deep experience in Rhode Island, whose services were freed up when Seth Magaziner switched races.
And while Foulkes has proven to be a champion fundraiser in her first foray as a political candidate, her campaign’s spending has raised eyebrows among rivals.
The Foulkes campaign had already spent nearly $900,000 as of March 31, the most recent data available — well before she had aired a single TV ad, usually the largest expense for a campaign. (Her campaign estimates it will spend $3.3 million by the Sept. 13 primary.)
Much of that money went to consultants, starting with her pollster, Global Strategy Group, which the campaign paid $202,000 from November through March.
Other firms that saw big money from Foulkes over that period included BattleAxe Digital, paid $64,000; MJD Associates LLC, paid $45,000; Hone Strategies, paid $40,000; Paragon Solution, paid $26,000; and Blair’s BBI Holdings, paid $25,000, according to Board of Elections filings.
Foulkes is one of five candidates seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Rhode Island, along with incumbent Dan McKee, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, former Secretary of State Matt Brown, and community activist Luis Daniel Muñoz.
A poll released last month showed Foulkes gaining ground after launching a TV advertising campaign in May, but still running behind the frontrunners, Gorbea and McKee.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook