Tennessee: DesJarlais Primary Opponent Raises $450,000 in First Quarter

DesJarlais' primary opponent announced their quarterly fundraising. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
DesJarlais' primary opponent announced their quarterly fundraising. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted April 14, 2013 at 6:03am

Jim Tracy, a Tennessee state senator challenging scandal-plagued GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the primary, will announce Monday that he raised almost $450,000 in the first quarter of the year, according to fundraising figures provided exclusively to CQ Roll Call.

Tracy will also report that he has $400,000 cash on hand, said a source close to Tracey’s campaign, more than a year ahead of the state’s August 2014 primary.

(See also in Roll Call: State Senator Announces Bid Against DesJarlais)

DesJarlais, on the other hand, ended 2012 with only $9,336 in the bank, after being dogged by damaging revelations from a 2001 divorce proceeding that came to light at the end of the last election cycle.

The proceedings revealed that DesJarlais, a physician who bills himself as an anti-abortion rights conservative, asked a former mistress to have an abortion, and that he supported two abortions his ex-wife had prior to their marriage. The divorce proceedings also made public several affairs DesJarlais had with co-workers and patients, one of which he allegedly prescribed drugs to, a revelation that could place his medical license in jeopardy.

DesJarlais’ October surprise came too late to oust him from his safe Republican district in 2012. However, 25 state legislators and 18 now-former DesJarlais donors have said publicly that they support Tracy’s candidacy, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The fallout has not stopped DesJarlais from seeking re-election in 2014 either.

Although he hasn’t yet released his first-quarter fundraising numbers, DesJarlais hosted a late-quarter D.C. fundraiser at the Capitol Hill Club that boasted the attendance of six Republican lawmakers, including former Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, Reps. Tom Price of Georgia and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, according to the Chatanooga Times Free Press.

Tracy is the only Republican who has officially announced he will primary DesJarlais. Two other state legislators, Joe Carr and Kevin Brooks, are also eying entering the primary race, according to local news reports.

Carr announced last week that his exploratory committee for the seat raised $200,000 in the first quarter, and told the Knoxville News Sentinel that, “all indications point to,” his entrance into the primary race.