NASHVILLE — U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., made his re-election bid for a third term official Wednesday with the embattled physician from South Pittsburg filing papers with the state State Division of Elections.
"I am once again asking for the honor of representing the people of Tennessee's 4th Congressional District in Congress," the congressman said in a statement. "In Washington, I have been proud to help lead the charge in cutting spending, reining in government and repealing Obamacare."
DesJarlais said, "While my independent, conservative voting record may not curry favor with the Washington political establishment, I believe my constituents appreciate my unwillingness to compromise on constitutional principles."
The congressman announced last summer that he was seeking re-election despite revelations during his 2012 campaign of an affair he had with a patient, whom he encouraged, when she claimed she was pregnant by him, to seek an abortion in 2000.
That rocked DesJarlais' 2012 bid for a second term, but the congressman, who has highlighted his opposition to abortion as a candidate, easily survived against Democrat Eric Stewart.
Records from his 2000 divorce, released after the election, showed he went along with his then-wife on two abortions. But he says his life changed after the divorce, remarrying and becoming religious.
This time, he faces GOP primary opposition from Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy, of Shelbyville, and educator John Anderson. Democrat Lenda Sherrell, of Monteagle, is running as well.
Since announcing, Tracy has far outraised the congressman.
But DesJarlais and his supporters have fought back with the congressman touting his conservative voting record. A DesJarlais supporter, meanwhile, filed a complaint against Tracy over a pancake breakfast he hosted using money from his state campaign account. The event, which Tracy said raised money for Toys for Tots, came just days before he announced his congressional bid.
The state Registry of Election Finance later dismissed the complaint.
DesJarlais also has sought to put Tracy on the defensive on issues like Common Core education standards. And the congressman has said he is "deeply concerned" about the Tennessee Religious Freedom Restoration Act, noting the 2009 law "may have" allowed approval of a Muslim cemetery in Murfreesboro that has been the target of lawsuits and an arson.
Tracy co-sponsored the bill, which was promoted by Christian religious conservative activists, including Family Action Council of Tennessee President David Fowler.
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfree press.com or 615-255-0550.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...