NASHVILLE - The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched a paid "grass-roots campaign" taking U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., to task, charging he has sided with fellow Republicans "to protect the wealthiest 1 percent at the expense of seniors and the middle class."
Automated or "robo calls" as well as live calls criticizing DesJarlais, a freshman lawmaker from Jasper, began today in the sprawling 4th Congressional District. The effort also includes online ads and an online "action center" where voters can write letters to newspapers about U.S. House Republicans' priorities.
The robo calls urge listeners to call DesJarlais' congressional office.
The move signals national Democrats' belief that state Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, who recently announced he is running for the seat, is a credible candidate. Democratic officials won't say how much they are spending on this week's effort.
In a news release, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it intends to hold DesJarlais "accountable for forcing the debt super committee to fail by demanding more tax breaks for billionaires while insisting the Medicare guarantee be eliminated."
The bipartisan panel, charged with making over $1 trillion in cuts, deadlocked over cuts and tax increases.
DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson took issue with Democrats seeking to link the congressman to the super committee. He said the congressman voted against the Budget Control Act that also set up the super committee.
"I can tell you with certainty that Congressman DesJarlais was not part of the super committee, nor did he vote for it," Jameson said.
He said the congressman agrees a "big, balanced bold approach" is needed on the deficit reduction, noting that was why he voted for Republicans' budget proposal that "closed loopholes for giant corporations while lowering overall tax rates so everybody pays their fair share."
DesJarlais does oppose Democratic efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy. Jameson said "the congressman doesn't believe we need to raise taxes on anybody right now."