NASHVILLE - Leading by just 35 votes, Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais this afternoon declared victory in Thursday's 4th Congressional District GOP primary with challenger Jim Tracy.
The announcement came as the Tennessee Secretary of State's office prepares to have local election commissions in the sprawling district's 16 counties begin a days-long process of sorting through provisional ballots in a race that's been too close to call.
"I am truly honored that the folks of the Fourth Congressional District put their faith in my ability to continue to serve them effectively in Washington," said DesJarlais in a statement.
During the campaign, Tracy hammered at the South Pittsburg physician's unsavory past which included affairs with two patients, one of whom he pressured to seek an abortion, and having earlier gone along with his ex-wife's decision to get two abortions prior to their marriage.
"My campaign made it clear from the beginning we would run on my independent, conservative record and that is precisely what we did," DesJarlais said. "While my opponent engaged in desperate and disgusting personal attacks, at the end of the day voters cared more about the job I have done in Congress."
DesJarlais thanked former GOP primary rivals Steve Lane and John Anderson for their endorsement and said, "I look forward to focusing on the general election in November."
The winner in the Nov. 4 general election faces Democratic nominee Lenda Sherrell of Monteagle, a retired certified public accountant who had no opponent in her primary.