State Rep. Joe Carr exploring run against Scott DesJarlais

photo Rep. Joe Carr
Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

NASHVILLE - State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lacassas, edged closer today to a GOP primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, announcing he has formed an exploratory committee to "determine the viability of a successful run" in the 4th Congressional District.

"The voters have told me a trust has been violated," Carr said in a statement. "The voters want someone who not only lives by their values but will fight for them."

That was an apparent reference to DesJarlais, a Jasper physician who has been rocked by revelations that he had affairs with at least two patients in the late 1990s and early 2000s, pressuring one of them to obtain an abortion.

Nashville businessman Lee Beaman, who is influential in conservative circles, will be chairman of Carr's exploratory committee. In a statement, Beaman said, "we need someone like Representative Carr who understands the principles of personal responsibility and a smaller, more efficient government."

Carr hails from Rutherford County, the largest county in the sprawling 16-county district. Others looking at the race include state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, and state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland.

In another development, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester later today is expected to deliver to state health officials sworn testimony from DesJarlais' 2001 divorce case in which the physician acknowledges having had sex with patients, which is a violation of medical ethics.

During DesJarlais' general election campaign with Democrat Eric Stewart, the Washington, D.C.-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an ethics complaint with the state Board of Medical Examiners about the affairs.

DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson said in a statement that "right now Congressman DesJarlais is completely focused on the job he was elected to do by residents of the Fourth District: Ending the deficit spending, repealing ObamaCare and returning our government to its proper constitutional role."