Decision 2019: Campaign trackers and what they do

Campaign Trackers

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -It’s no secret that statewide campaigns are constantly under the microscope. But one tactic that’s being discussed more openly, as of late, is the use of trackers.

“I have two trackers," said gubernatorial candidate Robert Foster. “One of them’s been on me since January and one of them’s been on me since March.” That’s one instance of trackers being called out this week.

Team Tate Reeves also tweeted about a suspected tracker.

We went to those who’ve worked campaigns to find out.

“It’s opposition research out in the open," said Hinds County Republican Party Chairman Pete Perry. "And it has transformed into that. I think when it started it was a little more shady when it wasn’t as common and only a few folks were doing it.”

“It’s just a fancy name for something that goes on in every campaign," explained President of Chism Strategies, Brad Chism. "If someone uses the term tracker as a dirty word, chances are, they’ve got something to hide.”

The most recent public example was during the special Senate election when a tracker filmed and leaked videos of Cindy Hyde-Smith making controversial comments. But Pete Perry and Brad Chism say there are other ways the strategy gets deployed.

“Looking for a gaffe maybe but more importantly recording what they’re saying to see if what they’re saying to one audience, they’re saying to another,” said Perry.

“Public events are public events," Chism noted. "Candidates from all persuasions invite people to come to their events. What they say is public and on the record because TV cameras can’t always be there. It helps to make voters more aware of what’s going on.”

Foster says he doesn’t have anything to hide but does note it’s tough to ignore their presence.

“It’s just a constant concern that someone is out there trying to find anything they can to twist, to manipulate, to fabricate and do a story on you negatively,” Foster said.

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