Primary Season Starts Early
I’m not sure I’ve ever started covering an incumbent’s primary before they actually take office. However, that’s exactly what’s happening in the case of Congressman Scott DesJarlais.
By now, DesJarlais’ transgressions are known. A recently unsealed transcript from his divorce a decade ago revealed that he had sex with patients, prescribed drugs to one of them, pressured a patient to have an abortion and supported his ex-wife’s decision to have two abortions as well. The transcript doesn’t exactly match up to his staunch anti-abortion image he had previously cultivated.
Now, I will be the first person to say that I expected DesJarlais to win a second term. It’s a political reality in the 4th District that being a Democrat is worse than being DesJarlais. Also, besides the phone transcript where he pressured his mistress to have an abortion, none of the other details were verified until a week after the general election.
Republicans were pretty silent on the whole issue through the general election. It also became clear early on that DesJarlais was going to get a primary opponent.
Today, he got his first official opponent.
Senator Jim Tracy ran for Congress in 2010, when Rutherford County was part of the 6th District. He came in third in a tightly contested and extremely ugly primary race with Diane Black and LouAnn Zelenik. Redistricting put Rutherford County and much of Tracy’s district squarely in the 4th.
Tracy hit DesJarlais on his personal problems during his official announcement saying, “Scott Desjarlais has betrayed and deceived his constituents. America’s problems are too great to have our leaders preoccupied by their own personal scandals.”
His campaign kickoff also included a lot of Republican lawmakers in the area, which seems to suggest DesJarlais is not going to have a lot of local leaders on his side in this primary.
Of course, there are others who are exploring a run. State representatives Joe Carr and Kevin Brooks have both publicly announced they are looking into the race. Carr has even formed an exploratory committee headed by Lee Beaman, who is a big fundraiser for conservative GOP candidates.
This could be an interesting race. DesJarlais has so far indicated he plans to run again. If that’s the case, it could be a very lively and possibly ugly primary.