published Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Cook Report changes outlook on 4th District race from ‘likely’ to ‘lean’ GOP

NASHVILLE — The non-partisan Cook Political Report, has moved the 4th Congressional District race between U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., and Democrat Eric Stewart from its “likely” Republican category to “lean” Republican.

The Cook report is one of the country’s best-known political prognosticators.

Stewart’s campaign today jumped on the shift as “further proof that there’s incredible momentum behind” his campaign. The district is now “one move away from being considered a toss-up,” the campaign says.

Since revelations that DesJarlais, a physician, once pressed a patient with whom he had a sexual relationship to seek an abortion, the 4th District has gone from “solid” Republican to “likely” Republican and now “lean” Republican.

The Times Free Press reported over the weekend that a second DesJarlais patient said she had had a sexual relationship with him in 2000.

DesJarlais has acknowledged the first affair, outlined in a transcript of a recorded telephone conversation, but has said he was using “strong language” to get the woman to admit she wasn’t pregnant. She wasn’t pregnant and there was no abortion, says DesJarlais, who was first elected to Congress in 2010.

With regard to the second woman’s assertions, DesJarlais this week charged the Times Free Press published a “factually inaccurate story from a non-credible anonymous source who is lying.”

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Democratic Party announced it is running an ad featuring former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen in which he describes Stewart, a state senator, as a “man we Tennesseans can be proud to send to Washington.”

DesJarlais has attacked Stewart for his support of Democratic President Barack Obama and also for two tax liens filed against Stewart by the Internal Revenue Service.

Records show Stewart has since paid the liens, but DesJarlais has said the problems show Stewart’s financial history demonstrates he has no business working on federal spending problems.

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