Political operatives take note: if you’re going to call a member of your own party a “nut,” you might not want to say it to the daughter of his opponent.
At a rally for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in Houston on Saturday, Cornyn Campaign Manager Rob Jesmer probably did not notice the digital recorder when he struck up a conversation with Democratic rival Rick Noriega’s press secretary, Holly Shulman.
Jesmer — who was presidential candidate John McCain’s political director for two months before quitting in July of last year, when his campaign seemed to be flailing — asked Shulman about her father Dennis’s chances in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, where he’s challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage).
“Your dad’s running for Congress, right? Is he going to win?” Jesmer asked.
“I don’t know,” said Shulman in a partially inaudible response, noting that her father tends to call her when he’s supposed to be making fundraising calls, and that she typically chastises him for it.
The most interesting part of the exchange goes like this:
Jesmer: “Garrett’s a nut.”
Jesmer: “Scott Garrett’s a nut. That’s who your dad’s running against, right?”
Jesmer did say, however, that he would vote for Garrett if he lived in the district.
Shulman, 25, told PolitickerNJ.com that she was at the rally because she was working nearby anyway, and figured she would go in lieu of the campaign’s usual tracker. Jesmer approached her and initiated the friendly exchange.
“He’s going to be so mad at me,” she said. “He came up to me to be nice, but to say that and be the former political director…he knows who he’s talking to,” she said.
“If there’s a Republican political operative who says that Garrett is a nut, I think that says something about Garrett,” she added. “I think there’s no expectation of privacy in public place like that, when I’m recording a rally.”
Jesmer, reached at Cornyn’s campaign office, declined to comment on the conversation.
Garrett Campaign Manager Amanda Gasperino could not immediately be reached.