BISMARCK, N.D.- The 2018 election is already heating up and eyes are already on two North Dakota races. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., may not have opponents yet but they must already be in mid-season form. Trackers from both parties have been attending public events for both politicians and videotaping any public remarks and interviews.
Heitkamp is followed everywhere she goes. But she's used to it.
"It's one of those things that is now part of politics. It's fortunate, because I never say anything anywhere that I wouldn't want put on the front page of the papers," said Heitkamp.
Democratic and Republican operatives have been trailing Heitkamp and Cramer, looking for anything they can use against the politicians in future campaigns.
"Trackers have followed me around here, they shout questions at me while I'm going into restaurants," said Cramer.
"They're mainly just looking for something to put in a two second sound bite," said Heitkamp.
Cramer says he started to think of his tracker like family.
"I had a tracker that followed me around in 2012 when I first started, but he became like a son to Chris and me. We invited him in to our fundraisers, we said, 'Hey, you can't turn the camera on but you can enjoy the meal,'" said Cramer.
Both members of the state’s congressional delegation say as long as everyone has good manners, they don't mind the extra company.
"As long as people are respectful, it doesn't bother me," said Heitkamp.
"Often times the organizers will say, 'Should we kick that person out?' And, I always say as long as they're polite, let them stay. I've got nothing to hide," said Cramer.
But Cramer says that his one issues with trackers is they can keep politicians from being themselves.
"That means running some risk, that means occasionally stumbling, maybe stating the wrong fact every now and then. It might even mean saying something stupid," said Cramer.
Being themselves is a quality the two representatives from North Dakota don't seem to have any issues with.
Heitkamp seems to be gearing up for quite the battle; from January 2013 through March 2017 she's raised more than $3.6 million. And, through the first three months of March 2017, Heitkamp has raised more than $1.6 fro her 2018 campaign.