He set up quietly in the back of the Pulaski Club Wednesday morning with his flip camera and tripod, but the presence of the opposition tracker didn’t go unnoticed.
After all there were maybe a dozen people in the room decorated with hanging hearts for Valentine’s Day, and the only other video camera belonged to Chris Donovan’s congressional campaign.
As he tried to maneuver around the room Elizabeth Esty’s campaign tracker, an intern, was followed by a Donovan campaign staffer named Rob, who tried to block his shot.
The emergence of trackers is nothing new on the campaign trail.
Trackers became a campaign necessity after Republican U.S. Senator George Allen’s “Macaca” video in 2006.
The video captured Allen calling a volunteer for his Democratic opponent “Macaca” at a campaign event. The term is an anti-Indian slur; the volunteer was of Indian descent. Allen lost the election to Democrat James Webb. The video was believed to be the turning point in the campaign, and established YouTube as an important new campaign tool.
Trackers become more prevalent toward the party’s nominating conventions in May, but they‘re no longer an unusual sight on the campaign trail.
What didn’t the Donovan campaign want Esty to see?
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo endorsing his congressional campaign and saying nice things about the current Speaker of the House.
Donovan is vying for the Democratic nomination against Esty, a former state representative from Cheshire, and Dan Roberti, a young political newcomer from Kent.
“For a guy who thinks he can take on the Republicans in congress, he sure is afraid of a kid with a video camera,“ Jeb Fain, a spokesman for Esty’s campaign said. “What’s he hiding?”
Donovan seemed blissfully unaware of what had happened when he was questioned about the incident after the press conference.
“Oh, was there an Esty tracker? I didn’t see him,” Donovan said.
“We put all of our videos up online,” Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for Donovan’s campaign, said explaining how unnecessary it was for her campaign to send a staffer.
“Today, a staffer took it upon himself to do something that we find inappropriate and it won’t happen again, it only distracts from Chris’ efforts to bring jobs and security to the middle-class,” Josh Nassi, Donovan’s campaign manager, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “All of our public events are posted online, and the video of the endorsement will be available at donovanforcongress.com this afternoon.”