NASHVILLE - Republican hopeful Grant Starrett has begun airing a radio spot in which his campaign charges incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., recently insulted nationally syndicated conservative talk radio host Mark Levin by suggesting Levin's views "can be sold."
The campaign's 60-second ad began running Wednesday evening on Chattanooga's WGOW and Nashville's WWTN, according to Starrett's campaign.
Starrett, an attorney, is challenging three-term incumbent DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician, in the 4th Congressional District's Aug. 4 Republican primary.
His ad features a recording of DesJarlais criticizing both Levin and talk show radio host and blogger Erik Erikson at what the campaign says was a Lincoln County GOP meeting earlier this month.
Levin has been critical of DesJarlais in the past while Erikson, former editor-in-chief of the Red State blog, has endorsed Starrett in his challenge to the congressman.
"You listen to conservative Mark Levin every day," says a female announcer in the spot. "Would Mark Levin betray your principles at any price? Here's what Scott DesJarlais thinks about about Mark Levin."
The ad switches to a recording of DesJarlais saying "there's bought and paid for political conservatives as well, Mark Levin apparently is one, I think Erick Erikson is another, and so I think they can be sold to the highest bidder."
The female announcer's voice resumes, asking, "Mark Levin, bought and paid for?" The announcer later goes on to ask "Who is Scott DesJarlais to question Mark Levin's conservative principles?"
The ad then charges DesJarlais "voted for $700 billion in Obama's food stamps, failed to hold abortion providers accountable and voted with Obama to cut our military.
"You've been betrayed by Scott DesJarlais," the announcer charges.
In a statement, DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson, who did not address the ad's citing of the congressman's criticisms of Levin, called Starrett "a 28-year old trust fund kid from California who just moved to the Fourth District and has absolutely no ties to the community. He has nothing to run on, an inability to tell the truth and establishment views that do not align with the district he just moved into."
Jameson noted DesJarlais has been ranked as the fourth most conservative member of Congress and said the congressman "enjoys broad support among his constituents.
"After the August primary, Congressman DesJarlais will continue to represent the Fourth District and Grant will move back to his house in Beverly Hills and begin to start searching for a new district to pretend to be from," Jameson said.
Jameson has previously said DesJarlais voted to cut the food stamp program and voted against a Senate version that did not. Starrett's campaign has dismissed the House-backed cuts as minor in the overall scope of the program.