State election officials say they will move to speed up the finalization of results from Thursday's primaries in the 4th Congressional District, but it may be weeks before the outcome becomes clear in the race between U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Sen. Jim Tracy.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett and coordinator of elections Mark Goins told reporters in a conference call after midnight on Friday morning that they have begun to contact election commissions in the 16-county districts to move up meetings to certify the results of the race, which DesJarlais appears to have won by 35 votes based on unofficial returns.
The last commission, in Lincoln County, currently is scheduled to meet Aug. 25. Candidates have five days after final results are filed to ask for a recount.
State officials also say local commissions also have to count provisional ballots. They said they hope to find out Friday how many votes were cast provisionally.
If the results hold up, DesJarlais will have survived the devastating personal revelations that emerged just after he won his second term two years ago.
Tracy initially declared victory Thursday night, but late returns from Grundy County appear to have tipped the tight race in favor of DesJarlais. Early Friday morning, the Tracy campaign issued a statement acknowledging the shift but holding out hope that he could still win.
"There are ballots left to be counted in the Fourth District Republican primary," the campaign said. "We eagerly await the final outcome once the counting is completed and verified."