By Chas Sisk / The Tennessean
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who weathered disclosures about his
personal life to win a second term in November, announced Wednesday that
he'll officially launch his re-election campaign next month in
The two-term incumbent, who trails his Republican
challengers badly in fundraising, said he will hold a kickoff rally at 1
p.m. on Aug. 7 on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse. The
event comes 12 months before the primary.
"My first priority has
always been to do my job in Congress, representing the people of
Tennessee's 4th Congressional District," DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg,
said in a press release. "I do not believe that voters elect their
leaders to run a perpetual campaign. However, I feel that one year from
the primary is an appropriate time to start focusing on the 2014
DesJarlais, a physician who rode the tea party wave to
office in 2010, has been battered by details about his personal life
contained in the court files from his 2001 divorce. A proponent of more
restrictions on abortion, DesJarlais testified that he had encouraged
his first wife to have two abortions prior to their marriage, and a
court transcript indicated he also had asked a patient with whom he had a
sexual relationship to travel to Georgia for an abortion.
DesJarlais has remarried since. He has said voters should judge him on the basis of that relationship.
overcame the negative publicity last year to defeat Democrat Eric
Stewart in the general election by 12 percentage points. But the
disclosures have encouraged two state lawmakers - state Sen. Jim Tracy
of Shelbyville and state Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas - to challenge him
in the GOP primary.
Federal filings released earlier this month showed Tracy outraised DesJarlais eight-to-one
in the second quarter, while Carr took in nearly three times more in
campaign contributions. Both candidates also have more money in the bank
than the incumbent, a major advantage in a vast district that reaches
into three television markets.