ATLANTA -- When Democrat Jason Carter exits his office across from the Capitol, a Republican is almost always there to meet him. The man with blonde hair is a 22 year-old North Georgia College grad named Ben. He's called a tracker. He simply videotapes his target wherever he can.
Ben was present when Carter unveiled a constitutional amendment to change education budgeting.
He follows as Carter navigates Capitol staircases. Ben quietly waits outside the Senate chamber for Carter to meet with lobbyists or the public. "I have had to circumnavigate the kid in order to get into a couple of rooms," said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta). Fort described him as a "political stalker."
"I'm flattered that he's here," Carter said. It means the opposition takes his candidacy seriously.
If Ben succeeds, he'll catch Carter in a moment that Republicans can potentially use to embarrass him. Jason Carter knows the game. His cousin, another Jimmy Carter grandson named James Carter, was instrumental in the release of an embarrassing video of Mitt Romney in 2012. In it, Romney told a fundraiser "there are forty seven percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon the government." James Carter, of Dunwoody, declined comment on his cousin's tracker.
Sen. Carter says he doesn't find the tracker's presence unnerving. "If I thought I was saying one thing in one place, and another thing someplace else I might be nervous. But I try to tell the truth everywhere. So I should be fine," Carter said.
Ben politely declined comment. A spokesman for the Georgia Republican Party, Ryan Mahoney, said "his job during the (legislative) session is to monitor Sen. Jason Carter and to hold him accountable."
And the tracker is becoming a routine part of the political landscape. "It's a pretty common occurrence now to have them on both sides," Mahoney said.