Rep. DesJarlais draws first primary challenger

January 2, 2013

Embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) has his first major primary challenger.

State Sen. Jim Tracy (R), who lost a 2008 primary in the neighboring 6th district, has announced that he will challenge DesJarlais in 2014.

DesJarlais has suffered from a series of revelations having to do with affairs with patients and co-workers at his medical practice. He has also been accused to prescribing medication to his mistress and, according to divorce records, urged his wife to get an abortion on two separate occasions, despite professing to be against abortion rights.

Despite those problems, he was easily reelected in November with 56 percent of the vote in a heavily conservative district. Given the district's leaning, he's more likely to face danger in the primary, where Tracy may not be his only competition.

Tracy finished a close third in the GOP primary for the open seat being left by former Rep. Bart Gordon's (D-Tenn.) in 2008. Now-Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) won that race the same year DesJarlais won in the 4th district to the South.

Since then, redistricting has moved Tracy's home county, Bedford, from the 6th to the 4th.

In announcing his campaign, Tracy alluded to Desjarlais's personal problems.

“I am a conservative in word and deed. I have lived my life both personally and professionally in a way that is consistent with my core conservative values,” he said, according to the Tennessean. “I promise that I will never embarrass you with my personal conduct or compromise on my conservative principles.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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