Ever since he lost the gubernatorial race last year, former state Attorney General Rob McKenna has downplayed the likelihood that he’ll run again in four years.
But the state Democratic Party is taking no chances.
The party’s designated “tracker,” Zach Wurtz, is still shadowing McKenna at public appearances, looking to record him in hopes of capturing some damaging video that can be trotted out if the Republican decides to run for office again.
That may seem a little early — maybe even hyper-aggressive — but it’s a reality of modern politics.
Trackers point their cameras at opposition candidates as often as possible, trying to record their statements and slip-ups — or, even better, rattle them into saying something stupid. The most famous example of that tactic’s success may still be Republican George Allen’s infamous “macaca” outburst in 2006, which helped him lose his Senate seat.
Though he never imploded like Allen, McKenna made at least one tracker-related mistake in the 2012 campaign, when he snapped at a young Democratic Party volunteer to “get a job” after she approached him on a Seattle sidewalk to ask his position on legislation requiring insurance companies to cover abortions. It was Wurtz who caught the moment on camera.
Jaxon Ravens, executive director for the state Democratic Party, said McKenna has continued to keep his name “in the mix” by giving speeches at GOP conferences and dinners.
“I definitely think he’s a potential candidate in four years,” he said. “If he wasn’t speaking at all these events, we wouldn’t be tracking him.”
Randy Pepple, who was McKenna’s campaign manager last year, scoffed at the continued surveillance.
“It’s all about personal destruction. Of course that’s what they’re going to do,” he said, slamming “unlimited union money” that funds such efforts.
But the Republican National Committee has acknowledged begrudging admiration for the Democratic Party’s tracking efforts and is calling for the GOP to catch up.
The RNC’s recent post-election autopsy report recommended that “well-funded conservative groups should seek to hire activists to track Democratic incumbents and candidates with video cameras constantly recording their every movement, utterance and action.”