Embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais wins primary as challenger concedes

 


Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., speaks to supporters after he was declared the winner of Tennessee's 4th Congressional District Republican primary race Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in South Pittsburg, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

More than two weeks after voters went to the polls in Tennessee, embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) has officially won his primary.

Days after certified election results showed DesJarlais narrowly outpaced state Sen. Jim Tracy by 38 votes in a closely-watched primary in the 4th district, Tracy conceded Monday, citing a desire to avoid a lengthy legal battle without a clear path to erasing his margin, even as he maintained that he saw potential problems with the vote.

"I am not willing to put the State Republican Primary Board, the Secretary of State's Office and Division of Elections, the County Election Commissions, the campaign staff, my volunteers, my family and the public through additional weeks of litigation, with uncertainty as to who the nominee will be," Tracy said in a statement.

Tracy's concession ends more than two weeks of drama that started after the race was too close to call the morning after the Aug. 7 primary. It also marks a remarkable political comeback for DesJarlais, who has been weighed down by personal scandal.

DesJarlais, a physician, had extramarital affairs with patients and encouraged his then-wife to get abortions, despite campaigning as an anti-abortion conservative. The explosive details of his personal history were revealed in 2012.

He begins his general election push as an early favorite despite his personal woes, because of the district's heavy conservative tilt, and faces Democrat Lenda Sherrell in November.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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