U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais maintained his 38-vote lead over state Sen. Jim Tracy in a closely watched Republican congressional primary after the last county certified its results Thursday night, increasing pressure on Tracy to concede the race.
Marion County, where DesJarlais lives and which he won by a large margin, certified its vote count at a 5 p.m. meeting, joining the other 15 counties in the 4th Congressional District. DesJarlais, the two-term incumbent, said it was time for Tracy to give up his dream of winning the GOP nomination.
"I want to thank the people of Tennessee's Fourth Congressional District for once again putting their faith in my ability to serve them; I promise I will never take that trust for granted," DesJarlais said in a written statement. "Now that all votes have been certified, it is time for Republicans to come together and begin focusing on the general election in November."
Tracy has five days to file a challenge of the result with the Tennessee Republican Party. A challenge would be considered by the GOP's executive committee, a group of 66 party activists elected from across the state.
Tracy's campaign manager, Stephanie Jarnigan, said the senator wouldn't have anything to say about his next step until Friday.
"Sen. Tracy continues to be thankful for all the support he's received," Jarnigan said.
Tracy declared victory at one point as election returns came in on Aug. 7. But late returns from Grundy County, a rural area close to DesJarlais' home in South Pittsburg, appeared to give the incumbent the lead.
Most political analysts said in the months leading up to the election that DesJarlais, a physician, had no hope of winning another term after the release of his 2001 divorce file showed he had urged his former wife to have two abortions. He also had affairs with patients and encouraged at least one of them to have an abortion, documents showed.
But Tracy struggled to find the right message for the primary campaign as many Republican voters seemed to look past DesJarlais' past indiscretions and focus on his voting record.
The winner of the primary will face Democratic nominee Lenda Sherrell, a retired CPA from Monteagle.