Tracker Boys and Their Stalkers
Friday, April 28, 2006 :::
There's been some old-fashioned, school yard horseplay among the lefty blogs regarding Hunter Pickels, who works for the Allen campaign as a "tracker boy," -- charged with the sometimes unenviable task of having to videotape the opposition in order to gather that one magic moment when the challenger makes a world-class gaffe.
The Raising Kaine folks are having some yucks, as are the good folks over at Perseverando (complete with Grover Norquist-style "Wanted" poster...who knew Grover's influence crossed ideological lines so easily?).
But if you really want to learn what a "tracker boy" does, check out this old Ray McAllister piece from just before the gubernatorial election last year. It helps put things into perspective:
University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato says that "to campaign workers . . . the videotaper is the living, breathing manifestation of the evil opponent."
Campaign staffers will fight to keep trackers out of events or try to block their view or jostle them, yell at them, even curse them.
"Oh, it's a horrible job," Sabato said of the practice, which started in presidential campaigns in the 1980s. "On the other hand, it certainly develops character. You learn how to control your emotions, and it's a pressure job.
"That's why they always give it to the eager young to prove themselves. 'You want to prove yourself? Walk through fire. Here's your job.'"
It explains why Dave Saunders appears to fly off the handle at the mere concept of Mr. Pickels -- it's not only his job, but his role on the greater political stage.
Though he does seem to be something of a method actor, if Lowell's account is true. Calling the cops..."messing with my man"? Sounds like Saunders is playing up the Tammy Wynette angle of his role quite a bit.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 4/28/2006