NASHVILLE - Former Congressman Van Hilleary will be Republican Jim Tracy's honorary campaign chairman in Tracy's 4th Congressional District GOP primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
Tracy named Hilleary, a native of Rhea County, to the post Thursday morning in an announcement on the steps of the Rhea County Courthouse.
"I've known Jim and his wife Trena for many years, and have always been impressed with their integrity, their friendly and approachable nature, and their sincerely held conservative values," Hilleary said in a statement. "I can say without reservation that Jim Tracy is the type of strong and effective conservative leader we need in Congress to get our country back on the right track."
Hilleary, formerly of Spring City, represented the 4th Congressional District from 1995 to 2003.
Tracy said he is "honored" to have Hilleary on his campaign team.
"I appreciate the confidence that he has placed in my conservative principles. Van understands what it takes to represent the 4th Congressional District with trust and Tennessee values."
The latter comment is an apparent dig at DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician and two-term congressman who says he is against abortion.
However, his political future has been jeopardized by 2012 campaign revelations and documents from his 2001 divorce. They show he supported his former wife's decision to have two abortions and that he once urged a patient with whom he had an affair to get an abortion.
DesJarlais says he is a changed man since then, religious and happily remarried.
Still, Tracy has far outdistanced the congressman in fundraising and analysts, and Tennessee-based political operatives say DesJarlais has a difficult re-election path.
Hilleary lived in Spring City while he served in the U.S. House but moved to Murfreesboro after unsuccessful bids for governor and U.S. Senate.
Contact Andy Sher at 615-255-0550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.