By Chas Sisk / The Tennessean
WINCHESTER - U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais launched
his bid for a third term Wednesday, touting his votes in Washington and
acknowledging the personal attacks that are likely to characterize the
About 100 people braved threatening skies at
the Franklin County Courthouse to show their support for the South
Pittsburg Republican, holding signs, American flags and umbrellas
through a rushed program.
The event came on the same day that
National Journal, a magazine that tracks congressional politics, rated
DesJarlais the most likely incumbent in Congress to lose his primary
DesJarlais faces state Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas and
state Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville in the 4th Congressional District's
GOP primary. Each of the others drew similarly sized crowds to his
DesJarlais got big cheers by promising to
continue to oppose the Affordable Care Act, saying he plans to add to
the 40 votes the House of Representatives have held against the coming
health care reform program. DesJarlais also received a cheer of support
as he implicitly addressed revelations about his personal life disclosed
in his 2001 divorce proceedings.
Those records indicate that
DesJarlais threatened his wife and himself with a handgun during a fight
with his ex-wife, made a mutual decision to abort two pregnancies with
her, encouraged a patient with whom he had a sexual relationship to have
an abortion and prescribed pain medication to another patient that he
dated. DesJarlais says he has moved past that period of his life and has
a stable marriage with his wife, Amy, who was on hand for Wednesday's
"It's no secret that my opponents and the media love
to pick apart mistakes I made in the '90s, long before I ever decided
to run for Congress," he said. "We've come to realize that they have no
better option than to try to tear me down personally, because they
certainly haven't found a way to attack me on what I stand for or the
way I do my job as a congressman."
DesJarlais also spoke with
reporters after the event for one of the first times since his divorce
records were released last November. Standing on the square as the skies
opened up, DesJarlais offered short, well-prepared responses to a
number of questions, including his uphill battle to win re-election.
"This will be my fifth race, and I guess I've made a career out of being underestimated," he said.