Grant Starrett

NASHVILLE — Republican Grant Starrett raised $91,699 from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 for his GOP primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the 4th Congressional District.

Starrett finished the year with $728,773 in cash on hand, according to the attorney's Federal Election Commission fourth-quarter filing.

But $226,561 in debts and obligations takes that down to $500,000 as the 27-year-old attorney prepares to do battle with DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician.

DesJarlais won the 2014 contest by 38 votes over GOP challenger Jim Tracy in the sprawling, largely rural district that stretches from Bradley County over to Murfreesboro in Rutherford County.

Starrett's total nine-month haul in 2015 for this year's challenge was $917,846.

"Raising more than $900,000 in nine months shows that conservatives continue to rally behind Grant Starrett's visionary campaign for Congress," said Tommy Schultz, Starrett's campaign manager. "Tennesseans are looking for a faithful conservative like Grant who will go to Washington and fight for our country's future."

Of the $917,846 that came into the Starret campaign, however, $226,561 came from personal loans made by Starrett himself.

Starrett, who was born and raised in California, continued to receive the vast majority of his contributions from outside Tennessee, let alone the 4th Congressional District, according to the candidate's latest disclosure.

And DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson noticed.

"Grant Starrett has raised less than 1 percent of his funds from within Tennessee's 4th Congressional District," Jameson said. "His campaign can try to spin this however they like, but the fact is Grant has gained no support in the district.

"Now," Jameson charged, "his plan is to use huge sums of out of state money to try and buy a congressional seat. Unfortunately for him, the Fourth District is not for sale."

Starrett campaign manager Schultz said in the news release that for years "D.C. politicians who say one thing, then do another have put our country into a grave circumstance — like when Scott DesJarlais voted for $700 billion in Food Stamps or against spending cuts to (President Barack) Obama's wasteful green energy programs like Solyndra — where we are now facing a financial, moral, and constitutional crisis."

Schultz added, "We need a new generation, with conservatives like Grant Starrett, to fight to get this country away from small dreams and socialism."

DesJarlais has defended his vote for the farm bill, saying he votes his district's interests, and farmers in the rural 4th District backed the measure, which also trimmed the food stamp program.

Politico has rated the DesJarlais-Starrett matchup in next August's GOP primary as one of the top five congressional races nationally to watch in 2016.

Starrett's disclosure shows contributions continue to come from various CEOs and investment executives from California to New York. None of the contributions appear to have come from inside the 4th District but he does have support in places like Nashville and Knoxville.

Tennessee contributions include $500 from Joan Ashe, wife of former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe. Pete Delay, CEO of Nashville-based Sherman Dixie Industries gave $1,000. And Robert Echols, CEO of Nashville-based Essex, contributed $2,700.

DesJarlais' filing, due Sunday, was not on the FEC website. DesJarlais reported $208,186 in cash on hand at the end of Sept. 30.

Contact Andy Sher at, 615-255-0550 or follow via twitter at AndySher1.