With State Rep. Joe Carr out of the 4th District congressional race, Republican strategists say the days of embattled incumbent Scott DesJarlais may be numbered.
The second-term congressman was trailing both Carr and state Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville in the money race. Tracy is well out in front with more than $650,000 on hand. DesJarlais has less than $90,000. Some political watchers felt his best chance for holding onto the seat was if the vote splintered between the primary challengers.
Now, it’s a clear, head-to-head matchup, assuming no one else enters the race.
“I just don’t even see any path to victory now for Scott DesJarlais at this point,” says Gregory Gleaves, former executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party.
DesJarlais has been trying to sidestep personal failings related to a decade-old affair. In a statement, he says he plans on running on his “record in Congress,” no matter who he’s running against.
Tracy’s statement takes a jab at the incumbent. He says the people of the 4th District – which spans from Murfreesboro to the suburbs of Chattanooga – are “hard-working, honest conservative folks.” He suggests DesJarlais does not share those qualities.
“I think it was always going to be hard for Congressman DesJarlais to get reelected,” says Chip Saltsman, a veteran GOP strategist who was managing Carr’s campaign before he jumped into the U.S. Senate race.