Politics
6:00 am
Fri January 10, 2014

State House GOP Leaders Support DesJarlais Opponent in Primary Bid

Tennessee 4th District Congressman Scott DesJarlais.

State House Speaker Beth Harwell and three other House leaders threw their support behind state Senator Jim Tracy in his bid to clench the GOP nomination over incumbent Fourth District Congressman Scott DesJarlais.

Harwell, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, Republican Caucus leader Glen Casada and House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson on Thursday announced their support for Tracy, a Republican who's served as a state senator for nearly a decade.

DesJarlais was first elected to office on the crest of a tea party wave in 2010, and won a second term in 2012. But just before that year's election, a former mistress alleged DesJarlais, a physician, counseled her to get an abortion after she told him the child she was carrying was his. That scandal, along with similar revelations from DesJarlais' 2001 divorce proceedings, eroded his support among some Republican leaders.

Tracy announced his intention to challenge DesJarlais in early January 2013. He soon eclipsed DesJarlais in fundraising, including the summer of 2013, in which Tracy raised three times as much cash as DesJarlais. To date, Tracy has raised more than $921,000 to DesJarlais' $266,000.

Tracy has also picked up endorsements from state Senate leaders, including Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey.