By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
6:55 PM EST, November 18, 2013
Republican gubernatorial candidate David R. Craig on Monday criticized Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown's use of a "tracker" to videotape Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's public appearances, calling the practice a way for Brown to "trash his opponent" in the Democratic race.
Craig, the Harford County executive, said he has never used trackers in his campaigns. His comments came in response to a Baltimore Sun article on Brown's tactics.
Craig called the practice — common in campaigns around the country — "a sign that candidates are too weak to run on their own record." He said campaigns use trackers to seek "gotcha" moments to use in negative advertising.
He said in a statement issued by his campaign that Brown's team "has an immediate, obvious and clear opportunity to strike a more positive tone in the 2014 election by stating publicly that they will end the practice of tracking their opponents."
Brown defended the use of trackers as a way to ensure transparency and consistency in campaigns.
"It's important that Marylanders hear what candidates say, regardless of where candidates are on any given day," he said.
Craig rejected that argument.
"There is nothing transparent about recording and selectively editing your opponents' comments, packaging the story and shopping it around to various press outlets," he said.
Jim Pettit, a spokesman for Craig, said he could not say how the campaign would react if his candidate and Brown end up as rivals in the general election. He said Craig would not be too upset if the tracker was recording only him but would have objections if family members were videotaped.
The Gansler campaign does not employ a tracker and has expressed irritation with the practice. At times, Gansler aides have physically blocked the view of the young Brown staff member who regularly shows up at the attorney general's events and records his words.
Bob Wheelock, an aide to Gansler, said that while the campaign doesn't like the practice, it won't rule out hiring a tracker of its own if Brown continues to use one.
"We haven't closed the door on it," Wheelock said.
The other Democrat in the governor's race, Del. Heather R. Mizeur of Montgomery County, said Brown's tracker has shown up at some of her events.. She said that while her campaign does not employ a tracker, considering it a "waste of resources," she doesn't object to being videotaped.
"Everything I say and do is open and transparent to the public," Mizeur said.
Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County, another Republican candidate, said he does not employ a tracker.
"It's just not my style of politics," he said.
Another Republican in the race, Charles County business executive Charles Lollar, said he opposes the use of trackers and won't use one in his campaign.
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