Meet the political trackers — what these (often interns) record can destroy a campaign

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NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) – They say a candidate doesn’t really make it in politics until they become a late night punchline.

In reality, a tracker may be the true sign that a campaign has arrived because it means that a campaign has become a serious threat.

What is a tracker?

Listen to Mayoral frontrunner Anthony Weiner point them out, “That guy is, either that or he just got off the ferry.  Uh-no, this guy looks like one.”

Anyone in the political realm will tell you that a tracker is the equivalent of a stubborn rash — only it comes with a lens and a record button.

The mission of a tracker is simple.  To follow a candidate’s every move  with the intention of capturing anything that may torpedo their campaign, “Look every campaign has to decide how to allocate its resources and you know we’re watching each other pretty carefully, I frankly less so than the other candidates.  I’m not spending a lot of time focusing on what my opponents are saying,” Weiner told PIX11 News after two trackers captured a recent event.

Weiner is a popular man these days, he has trackers from Speaker Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson following what he is saying and where he is saying it.

PIX11 News did go up to the Thompson and Quinn trackers at a Bronx event on Tuesday to get their perspective on their unique gig.  Both trackers quickly folded up their amateur camera kits and uttered a nervous “no comment.”

In fact, Quinn’s campaign has at least two trackers.  An hour after Weiner’s event in the Bronx, Bill Thompson was receiving the endorsement of former Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrrer and Congressman Charles Rangel in East Harlem.  That is when Quinn’s other tracker, the same one PIX 11 News captured at a Weiner event on Friday, raced into the Thompson rally looking for dirt.

Pay dirt.

When asked if he is cognizant of the trackers Thompson told PIX11 News, “No I’m really not.  The one thing is, whatever you say, you should expect to see and hear it.”  Usually it plays out in the medium of social media.

But what if Twitter and YouTube never existed? Would trackers even still be around.  Political strategist Basil Smikle, who worked on the 2009 campaign of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said that indeed they would, “Trackers would exist if there were no social media but we wouldn’t get that information as quickly and it probably wouldn’t be as useful.”

It is interesting to note, that the candidate drawing the most attention in this race, Weiner, is the most notable not to have a tracker.

The campaign says that they not only lack the staff but their funds are being invested elsewhere.


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