NASHVILLE - While Republicans believe GOP Congressman Scott DesJarlais should win reelection next month, they expect the Jasper physician will face a GOP challenger in 2014 after revelations he once encouraged a woman he'd dated to get an abortion.
Political operatives and GOP legislators say they expect state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, would be the likely challenger. Tracy has met with donors about a bid and could announce a bid for the 4th Congressional District seat in December, just before Christmas, they say.
"People are going to hold their nose and push a button one more time for DesJarlais. They don't want [House Democrat Nancy] Pelosi to be speaker," said a senior Republican of DesJarlais' contest with Democrat Eric Stewart. "But he's going to have major primary competition" in 2014.
Republicans have publicly distanced themselves from DesJarlais since he acknowledged a transcript of a recorded 2000 conversation he had with a patient in which he encouraged the woman to obtain an abortion is true. But all have refused to publicly criticize the lawmaker.
DesJarlais says he did so because he knew the woman wasn't pregnant and he was pressing her to admit it. He said there was no pregnancy and no abortion.
The congressman also said he didn't record the conversation, which was leaked despite having been put under seal in his 2001 divorce.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.