The ballot-counts aren’t yet certified and there’s just a few dozen votes separating the top two contenders, but the battle to represent the Republican Party in Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District this November looks to be all but won for incumbent Scott DesJarlais.
Provisional ballots in all of the district’s counties have been counted, and the gap between the two candidates hasn’t changed much the past few days. In fact, DesJarlais gained five votes while his challenger, state Sen. Jim Tracy, earned just two. The Franklin County Election Commission met Friday afternoon to examine a single provisional ballot, which was deemed invalid.
DesJarlais now leads Tracy by 38 votes. Following the Aug. 7 primary, Desjarlais led Tracy 34,787 votes to 34,752 votes — a 35 vote difference.
DesJarlais has called on Tracy to concede, though Tracy has indicated he is going to wait until all votes are certified by the State Election Commission on Aug. 25. Tracy has up to five days after the votes are certified to request a recount.
DesJarlais, who is a physician, is generally regarded as a dependably anti-Obama Tea-Party conservative in Congress. And he declares himself an abortion foe. But Tracy, who announced his challenge to DesJarlais in January 2013, sought to capitalize on a scandals from the incumbent congressman’s past involving extramarital affairs and assertions he told a mistress to seek an abortion when informed he’d impregnated her. DesJarlais has said the woman was lying about being pregnant.
With a DesJarlais victory looking likely, the Democratic challenger he’ll face, Lenda Sherrell, told WPLN that she doesn’t plan to focus on his past personal issues during her campaign to unseat him. Sherrell picked up an endorsement this week from Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, who is also a former Democratic state senator.