Reelection Just Got A Lot Tougher For Congressman DesJarlais

Rep. Scott DesJarlais and his wife, Amy, at the GOP Statesman's Dinner friday evening. DesJarlais is facing two Republican primary challengers who hope to unseat him next year. Credit WPLN / Daniel Potter

Rep. Scott DesJarlais and his wife, Amy, at the GOP Statesman’s Dinner. Credit WPLN / Daniel Potter

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.

Please keep your community civil. Comments will be moderated prior to posting, and Nashville Public Radio reserves the right to approve them at its discretion. Comments containing links promoting goods, services - even noble organizations - will not be published. Your comments may include external links, but all comments with links will be delayed as they are reviewed. Comments containing profanity will be rejected.