NASHVILLE - Republican challenger Jim Tracy remains far ahead in the money race in Tennessee's 4th Congressional District GOP primary with a better than four-to-one advantage over incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Desjarlais, according to quarterly campaign finance reports.
Meanwhile, Tracy, a state senator from Shelbyville, called Desjarlais "desperate" after the congressman's campaign fired a shot at Tracy's pre-announcement event in Murfreesboro last December, calling it a "$100,000 pancake breakfast."
Tuesday was the deadline for congressional candidates to report their third quarter fundraising results covering the period from July 1 to Sept. 30.
The Federal Election Commission was largely shuttered due to the fight in Washington over the federal government shutdown and a looming default on U.S. borrowing. But both campaigns released their bottom line figures.
Tracy said he raised $181,721 during the three-month period with Desjarlais reporting $113,249. Tracy reported having $767,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30 while the congressman, a South Pittsburg physician, said he had $171,000.
Shane Reeves, Tracy's campaign finance chairman, said the fundraising figures "continue to show momentum." More importantly, he noted, the more than 1,200 individual donors show rising support for Tracy across the district.
Desjarlais' campaign said in a statement the congressman "met his fundraising goals and his campaign is on track to have all the resources needed to win in 2014."
But even as the embattled congressman announced his quarterly campaign finances, his campaign took a double-fisted jab at Tracy over both his fundraising and the December constituent event.
"Senator Tracy has certainly been campaigning full-time and has taken advantage of his special interest connections," the Desjarlais campaign said in the statement. "However, he is going to need all the money he can get if his plan is to buy this election with $100,000 pancake breakfasts."
Retorted Tracy at a noncampaign event in Murfreesboro: "That's the sign of a desperate campaign."
Mike Hart, a former Franklin County Republican Party chairman and Desjarlais supporter, is questioning whether money Tracy spent from his state Senate account for the December event and other activity really was intended to boost his upcoming race against DesJarlais, which was announced in early January.
But Tracy says the Dec. 22 Murfreesboro pancake breakfast was designed to introduce himself to new constituents in his redrawn state district as well as benefit the Toys for Tots program.
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550.