THE GAZETTE: Are campaign trackers to blame for unannounced events?

U.S. Senate candidate Patty Judge’s campaign hopes by not announcing events they can avoid trackers, operatives who videotape candidate appearances on the lookout, in part, for “gotcha” moments.

Unannounced campaign events — in which news media representatives often are not in attendance to report on candidates’ comments — are increasingly common. But political scientists and a voter advocacy group say the trend could hurt campaigns and lead to a less well-informed electorate.

“I do think it’s a loss,” said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, “You’re not going to reach all the voters you need to reach with unscheduled, invite-only events.”

The right-leaning America Rising political action committee capitalized on former Iowa Rep.Bruce Braley’s videotaped comments that if he wasn’t re-elected, “a farmer from Iowa” might be in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Braley, a Democrat, lost and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is leading that committee.

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