State Rep. Joe Carr expected to challenge DesJarlais

State Rep. Joe Carr expected to challenge DesJarlais

May 2nd, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

Rep. Joe Carr

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, is expected to formally announce today he is challenging embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the state's 4th Congressional District Republican primary next year, Republicans say.

Carr, who in December formed an exploratory committee to test the waters for a bid, has scheduled a news conference in Murfreesboro at noon CDT.

When he announces, he will join state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, in challenging DesJarlais, a Jasper physician seeking his third U.S. House term.

DesJarlais, who describes himself as "pro-life," is fending off revelations contained in court documents from his 2001 divorce. Among other things they show he encouraged a patient with whom he had an affair to seek an abortion in 2000 and earlier supported his then-wife's decision to get two abortions.

The congressman, who later remarried, has said he has changed his life since then, believes God has forgiven him and hopes constituents will do the same.

The 55-year-old Carr raised $205,000 during the first quarter and had about $192,000 in cash as of March 31. His home base is Rutherford County, which became part of the 4th District in 2012 redistricting and is the most populous county in the district.

He is in his third state House term and is chairman of the House Local Government Subcommittee.

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"Joe is tenacious," said state House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin, a Carr contributor. "He's not one to back down under peer pressure, and he's not one to back down under this mantra of 'that's the way we've always done it.' Washington needs to be shook up, and Joe's the guy who can shake it up."

Tracy leads the field in contributions -- having raised about $436,000 in the first quarter and reporting $404,000 on hand at the end of the first quarter. He formerly represented part of Rutherford County.

DesJarlais lags substantially behind both men in fundraising, reporting about $104,000 in contributions and $87,426 on hand as of March 31.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfree press.com or 615-255-0550.