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Democrat says GOP workers' presence is intimidating voters

ST. PAUL -- Mark Dayton says Republican workers who videotape almost his every move are getting so close that they intimidate voters trying to talk to the DFL governor candidate. The GOP workers, known as trackers, "have made it impossible to conduct a normal campaign sc-hedule," Dayton said Monday, and promised that his campaign and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party would not do the same.

Dayton showed reporters video shot Saturday at Game Fair near Ramsey, which he said proved that a pair of trackers restricted public access to his booth.

Republicans said their trackers are respectful and polite.

"He wants to hide from Minnesotans for the next 90 days," GOP Communications Director Mark Drake said of Dayton.

Drake said Dayton's complaints only came after Republican trackers taped Dayton talking about his two dogs that were left in a car in 93-degree heat.

"We're seeing the fallout of that," Drake said, calling Dayton's reaction "weird."

Dayton proposed requiring trackers to keep "a respectful distance," not to block the public and to wear a T-shirt, button or other type of identification.

For his part, Dayton pledged that his campaign and the DFL Party only would record public appearances by opponents, such as Republican Tom Emmer.

Trackers have become more common since the 1980s. They provide information for opponents and sometimes their footage is used in campaign advertisements. Trackers often follow the opposition candidate's every move, from the time he arrives at an event until the time he leaves.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.