Rep. DesJarlais faces challenge from state senator - WSMV Channel 4

Rep. DesJarlais faces challenge from state senator

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A day before embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is sworn in for a second term, a member of his own party announced plans to challenge him for his seat.

State Sen. Jim Tracy announced Wednesday he'll challenge DesJarlais in the primary in 2014.

Until now, several lawmakers have been considering a run, but Tracy is the first person to make it official.

Tracy said, in the end, it comes down to character and hit DesJarlais hard on the personal issues that had made headlines before the November 2012 election.

DesJarlais has received national attention since a divorce transcript revealed he had sex with and prescribed drugs to a patient, pressured a mistress to have an abortion and supported his ex-wife's decision to have two abortions as well.

"Scott DesJarlais has betrayed and deceived his constituents. America's problems are too great to have our leaders preoccupied by their own personal scandals," Tracy said.

Two other potential challengers have expressed interest in running against DesJarlais in the Republican primary.

State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, announced last month he had formed an exploratory committee to look into a run, and State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, has also publicly said he's looking into it.

Tracy has experience running a congressional campaign, as he finished third in 2010 to Diane Black and Lou Ann Zelenik in a tightly contested race for the 6th District post.

Tracy said he has learned lessons from that race that he believes will change the outcome this time around.

"I learned about what you need to do, what you need to concentrate on, who you need to see. I know now how important it is to raise the resources to get your message out," Tracy said. "There are a lot of things I'm going to do different. I'm still going to be myself. I'm still going to be accessible to people."

Channel 4 News contacted DesJarlais' office for comment. In a statement, a spokesman said:

"Right now, Congressman DesJarlais is completely focused on the job he was elected to do: ending the deficit spending, repealing Obamacare and returning our government to its proper constitutional role."

Tracy said he spoke with DesJarlais Tuesday and told him he intended to run and intended to win.

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