U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais stepped up his fundraising this summer, but his Republican opponent managed to bring in even more, according to figures released by the campaigns Tuesday.
DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg, raised $113,249 between July 1 and Sept. 30, three times more than his take in the three preceding months. But state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, brought in $181,721, padding his financial advantage over the incumbent congressman.
Tracy finished the quarter with $767,000 in his campaign account, while DesJarlais finished with $171,000, according to representatives of the campaigns.
DesJarlais has faced an uphill climb in his bid for a third term representing the 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Rutherford County to the Chattanooga suburbs.
The physician rode the tea party wave to a surprise victory in 2010. He held on to win re-election in 2012 despite the disclosure late in the campaign that the pro-life congressman had dated at least two patients and urged one of them to seek an abortion after she told him she was pregnant with his child.
Soon after the election, a court released filings from his 2001 divorce that showed DesJarlais had backed his former wife in having two abortions.
The disclosures have prompted much of the Tennessee Republican establishment to back Tracy, who was first elected to the state legislature in 2004. That has given Tracy an edge in fundraising.
Nonetheless, Robert Jameson, a spokesman for the DesJarlais campaign, described its fundraising take as "a good quarter." He also took a swipe at Tracy for hosting a constituent breakfast days before he announced his congressional campaign in January.
"Sen. Tracy has certainly been campaigning full time and has taken advantage of his special interest connections," Jameson said. "However, he is going to need all the money he can get if his plan is to buy this election with $100,000 pancake breakfasts."
Tracy's campaign touted that it had received contributions from 495 individual donors in the third quarter and defended the breakfast.
"The pancake breakfast was for my constituents in the five counties I represent as a Tennessee state senator," he said. "It was successful in that we collected more than eight bins of Toys for Tots. We plan to host the breakfast again this year, because we will be able to help more Middle Tennessee families during Christmas."
Separately, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander's campaign disclosed that he raised $837,857 for his re-election campaign this summer. The two-term Republican senator finished the quarter with $2.8 million in the bank.
Alexander's primary opponent, state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, announced Wednesday that his campaign brought in $52,000 in the third quarter. The Carr campaign finished the quarter with about $285,000 in cash.
Hillary Pate, a Carr spokeswoman, said he had been focused on building grass-roots support for his campaign.
"I'm confident we will have a stellar fourth quarter," Pate said.
Reach Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.