Assembly hopeful says he’s victim of aggressive campaigning tactics

A Republican Assembly hopeful says he’s the victim of aggressive campaigning tactics and is calling on his political opponent to “stop the stalking.”

Steve Cook, who’s sharing a ticket with former state Sen. Peter Inverso in the 14th District, issued a statement Friday detailing an altercation with a campaign tracker earlier in the week. Cook, who previously served as Inverso’s chief of staff, says the political operative “accosted” him and exhibited overly aggressive tracker tactics.

The incident occurred at a Hamilton fundraiser Thursday night.

“As I arrived to spend an evening celebrating the campaign with my family, friends and members of our community, I was accosted by a young woman,” he said, adding the operative “shoved a camera” in his face.

“Several hours later, as I was leaving the gathering, [she] followed me out of the event to my car, even stalking me as I drove away from the restaurant,” Cook wrote. “I understand as a candidate that I will probably be filmed at public events. But the event where this encounter occurred was a private event meant for my family and friends, not for the political gain of an operative employed by my opponents.”

Cook referred to the operative’s actions as being “absolutely gratuitous, over-the-top and totally inappropriate.”

He asked for the operative, who he identified in the release by name, to be fired.

Cook, an openly gay candidate, suggested in the statement his sexuality could have something to do with the incident.

“I am not sure if I am receiving special treatment because of my unique profile as an openly gay Republican candidate, but I most certainly will not be intimidated by this type of political targeting,” he said.

A Democratic spokesman fired back at Cook Friday afternoon, saying the person Cook identified doesn’t belong to any campaign.

“This person is not part of the campaign [and] is not paid for by this campaign in any shape or form,” said Derek Roseman, communications director for the Democratic Assembly campaign committee.

Roseman said since the person identified in the release works for an independent expenditure organization, and is thus barred from having any contact with the campaign, the call by Cook to fire the individual doesn’t stack up.

“We don’t hire trackers,” he said, adding that with the person involved, “You couldn’t get further removed from our campaign than this.”

Assembly hopeful says he’s victim of aggressive campaigning tactics