Has politics come to this, following candidates into church as they pray?

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Has politics come to this, following candidates into church as they pray?

Congressional candidate Amanda Renteria likes to pray occasionally, but apparently doesn’t like unknown persons taking photos of her and asking questions while she’s doing it. Such is the state of American politics, when Republicans and Democrats employ these so-called “trackers” to follow candidates on the campaign trail, hoping to catch them in embarrassing moments that can later be used in a campaign ad or commercial.

We’ve heard about trackers for a long time. Even Renteria acknowledges that they’ve become a fact of life on the campaign trail. I witnessed a tracker first hand when I reported on a visit Renteria made to Lemoore. At first I thought he was a member of the Renteria’s campaign as he wandered about snapping photos of everyone and everything – like an art lover in the Louvre.

The young man, who looked as if he was skipping his high school math class, was called out by Renteria. He reluctantly admitted that he was employed by the Republican Campaign Committee and was following Renteria.

The Congressional candidate, a formidable presence on the campaign trail, wrote a public letter to her opponent’s campaign, Congressman David Valadao. “As you know, candidate trackers are a normal part of today’s politics. I get that. For weeks, your staffers have been following me, shouting aggressively at me, and taking video footage while I’ve been playing at parks, sitting on sidewalks, and going into community centers with my two young boys,” said Renteria.

But, she added that having a tracker follow her into church reached a “truly absurd level of inappropriateness and personal violation.” She said that Valadao’s staffer followed her into a Catholic church in Mendota and with his video camera rolling, he followed her all the way up the aisle asking questions, and stood there videotaping me while she knelt down to pray.

Renteria called for Valadao to apologize. Did he? Not quite.

Instead the Congressman’s aide released a statement denying the Congressman had anything to do with the incident. “Valadao for Congress does not employ trackers,” said spokesperson Tal Eslick in a release to the press. “Congressman Valadao has been tracked at public and private events for months, including having his family’s home and farm videotaped. This is another gimmick from our opponent. Her campaign has now resorted to outright lies.”

While the Congressman dismissed the allegations, the Republican organization that hired the most recent tracker, disavowed him and removed him from the campaign. Apparently even the Republicans thought following Renteria into church was a bit inappropriate.


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