Top staff departs Alan Grayson’s U.S. Senate campaign

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson speaks during the 2015 AP Florida Legislative Planning Session in October in Tallahassee.
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson speaks during the 2015 AP Florida Legislative Planning Session in October in Tallahassee. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Alan Grayson’s U.S. Senate bid took a blow this week with a top staff shakeup that included the departure of his campaign manager.

Doug Dodson’s last day with Grayson, a Democratic congressman from Orlando, was Monday, according to a source familiar with the campaign.

Senior adviser Kevin Franck will leave by the end of the year. Deputy campaign manager David Keith has already left the campaign’s day-to-day operations but will remain as an informal adviser.

The source said that all of the departures were mutually agreed on and that no one was fired. No new hires were announced yet.

“Staffing changes are normal in the course of a campaign,” the source said. “As we approach the start of a new year, we will begin to add staff, and some of the people who were critical to the launch of Rep. Grayson’s campaign will transition into other roles, or move on to other opportunities.”

Grayson, who is known for his fiery personality, is running in the Democratic Senate primary against fellow congressman Patrick Murphy of Jupiter. They are competing for the seat being vacated by Marco Rubio, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

Reached by phone, Grayson declined to comment on the high-profile staff departures, and dismissed a question about whether it signaled trouble for his campaign.

“I’m doing my job here,” he said of his post in Congress.

With the Aug. 30 primary more than eight months away, Grayson has time to recover from the staff shakeup. But his sluggish fundraising — and a congressional ethics investigation into his hedge funds — pose a challenge to his campaign.

A 2007 Washington Post profile of Dodson, a longtime veteran of campaigns who is known for brandishing swords from his collection, stated that the toughest part of the job is finding a candidate who knows how to ask for money.

“It’s a numbers game,” Dodson told the Post. “The more calls you make, the more money you raise.”

In that regard, Grayson has fallen short. October quarterly reports showed that Grayson had about $250,000 cash on hand, while Murphy had about $3.5 million. Murphy, who is seen as the more moderate of the two candidates, has the backing of the establishment and the bulk of the endorsements by other elected officials.

On the Republican side, the candidates include Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami, two congressmen — David Jolly of Tampa and Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach — and defense contractor Todd Wilcox of Orlando.

Longshot Democrat Pam Keith, a North Palm Beach attorney, is also running.

Herald/Times staff writers Kristen M. Clark and Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.