published Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Bill Ketron weighs challenge of Rep. Scott DesJarlais in Tennessee's 4th District

  • photo
    U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.
    Staff File Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press

NASHVILLE -- The congressional redistricting map from state Republican lawmakers hasn't even been approved yet, but things already are moving in the GOP primary for Tennessee's 4th Congressional District.

One potential candidate -- state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville -- announced Monday he won't challenge U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the 4th, which undergoes major surgery in the planned redraw of the state's nine congressional districts.

Meanwhile, state Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, of Murfreesboro, whose Senate GOP allies placed his home county of Rutherford in the 4th, said he is weighing and praying about a possible challenge to DesJarlais, a tea party freshman lawmaker from Jasper.

Ketron previously has said running for Congress "is something I have always wanted to do."

In his first real comment about the proposed redistricting, DesJarlais said in a statement Monday, "While I am disappointed that I'll be losing many of my current constituents next year, I look forward to having the opportunity to make new friends who believe in my fight for more jobs, less spending and smaller government."

The redrawn 4th District, which comes up for votes in House and Senate committees today, includes part of Bradley County as well as Rhea and Meigs counties.

Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, is mounting a last-ditch effort to stop the splitting of Bradley, which is currently in the 3rd District, as well as another split for Bradley in redistricting maps for the state Senate.

"My voters are hoping to get folks to change their minds," said Brooks, the assistant House Republican leader. "I was elected to represent the wishes of Bradley County, and they wish it not to be split."

Both the Bradley County Commission and the Bradley County Republican Party oppose splitting the county, Brooks said.

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    Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, speaks outside the Senate chamber in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

DesJarlais already is running radio campaign ads. He announced Tuesday that, as of Dec. 31, he had $436,000 in campaign cash on hand after raising nearly $558,000 in net contributions during 2011. An estimated $252,000 of that came from political action committees, according to his Federal Election Commission filing.

The report showed DesJarlais' campaign raised $154,127 for the fourth quarter, which the campaign said is his best fundraising quarter to date.

His FEC report shows donors include political action committees affiliated with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, which gave $5,000 on Dec. 27 and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., which gave $10,000 over the year. Prosperity PAC, associated with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., gave $5,000, the filing shows.

Koch Industries PAC, which is associated with the Republican conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch, gave $2,500 to DesJarlais.

Glenn Morris Jr., of Chattanooga, president of M&M Industries Inc., gave $2,500 over the course of the year to DesJarlais, while a number of fellow physicians and health-related PACs gave him money.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfree press.com or 615-255-0550.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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