Tennessee State Sen. Jim Tracy to announce 2014 challenge to DesJarlais

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Tennessee Republican State Sen. Jim Tracy will announce Wednesday that he is challenging scandal-embroiled Rep. Scott DesJarlais for his seat in 2014.

Tracy has been a member of the Tennessee Senate since 2004. He is a former teacher, and owns an insurance agency.

“Number one, I’m running because the country is bankrupt, financially and morally, and with my experience that I have, I’m a solid conservative … in word and deed, and times are tough in the country and we need someone to find solutions to the problem not just vote no,” Tracy told The Daily Caller in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

He hit DesJarlais for the various scandals surrounding the congressman. Shortly before the November election, the Huffington Post reported that DesJarlais, a doctor and an avowedly pro-life Republican, had an affair with a patient and pressured her to get an abortion when she became pregnant.

The Tennessee Department of Health has opened a complaint file on DesJarlais for allegedly sleeping with patients, according to the Times Free Press.

“Leadership requires character and integrity … with everything swirling around him i just don’t know how he could be effective,” Tracy said of his opponent.

Tracy said his major goals would be to pass a balanced budget amendment — something he noted that he has done successfully for the past 8 years in Tennessee, along with “tax reform, entitlement reform,” and “[cutting] spending in order to reduce the debt and “get this economy moving.”

The announcement comes almost a full two years before the 2014 election — time Tracy said he would use to grow his campaign coffers and get to know the people of Tennessee’s Fourth District.

“A lot of time will be spent fundraising – it takes a lot of money to run for Congress,” Tracy said, adding that he would stay true to his reputation as “someone who’s out in public a lot” and spend a lot of time talking to Tennesseeans “to figure out what the issues are.”

Successsful fundraising would give Tracy a leg up on DesJarlais, who lost the support of several medical PACs who had been big backers of his in the months following the report of the scandal, the Times Free Press reported. According to FEC records, he has only $15,660 cash on hand, far below the sums generally found in a sitting member of Congress’ campaign account.

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Alexis Levinson