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Hey Phil Weiser: Welcome to the world of campaign trackers

Author: Washington Examiner - August 16, 2018 - Updated: August 17, 2018

Phil Weiser, former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, points into the crowd as he accepts his nomination for Colorado Attorney General during the 2018 Colorado Democratic State Assembly at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield on April 14, 2018. (Andy Colwell / Colorado Politics)

By Becket Adams | Washington Examiner

If you’re running for public office in the year 2018, and you’re rattled by the appearance of a campaign tracker, U.S. politics may not be the thing for you.

We’re talking to you, Phil Weiser.

Weiser, a Democrat and former University of Colorado law school dean who is running to become Colorado’s next state attorney general against Republican District Attorney George Brauchler, is not only unsettled by trackers, but the candidate also seems have just learned of them this week.

“This is ‘Pat,’” he said in a tweet that included a picture of the GOP operative. “We are not sure that’s his real name, but we are sure he’s following me around Colorado. The Republican AG Association is desperate to find attack lines and has so much dark money, they’re paying him to tape me so they can later misrepresent my words.”

“Pat” is a tracker. This is standard stuff, folks.

Trackers “are individuals employed by campaigns, political action committees, and other organizations to follow and record opposing candidates on the campaign trail,” Ballotpedia explains. “Their objective is to capture any instance in which a candidate says something offensive, off-brand, or contradictory.”

Social media users took Weiser’s original tweet as a go-ahead to mock the tracker’s personal appearance. This prompted the candidate to tweet later: “I am strongly against mocking someone’s appearance. I also oppose the intimidation of someone hovering and filming when having a conversation with citizens in Alamosa or Ordway. That happened.”

He added, “But what’s worse is that the filming is to generate misleading attack ads.”

Campaign tracking is a dirty and unpleasant job. It’s also not new to U.S. politics.

Ask former U.S. senator George Allen, R-Va., whose political career ended in 2006 after a tracker caught him on camera using the word “macaca.”

“S.R. Sidarth, an unknown 20-year-old University of Virginia student, was thrust into the national spotlight when a Virginia senator with presidential ambitions singled him out for ridicule,” the Virginian-Pilot recalled in 2016.

The report added, “For five days in August 2006, Sidarth had been following then-U.S. Sen. George Allen, a Republican seeking re-election, to videotape his speeches. Sidarth was working as a ‘tracker’ for Democratic candidate Jim Webb – a common practice used to keep tabs on opponents.”

Allen used the word “macaca” in relation to Sidarth and, well, you know the rest.

Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner