published Thursday, August 14th, 2014

DesJarlais still holds narrow lead over Tracy in Tennessee's District 4 election

Scott DesJarlais
Scott DesJarlais
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Scandal-battered U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais continues to hold onto his narrow lead as election officials wrap up the count of provisional ballots from last week's Republican primary.

An Associated Press tally Thursday showed DesJarlais maintaining a lead of several dozen votes over state Sen. Jim Tracy.

The Aug. 7 voting ended with DesJarlais holding onto his District 4 seat by 35 votes. Since then, officials have added provisional ballots, which include voters who did not have proper ID on election day.

Bedford County had the most provisional ballots at 14. Elections Administrator Summer Leverette said one went to Tracy.

In Rutherford County, none of the eight provisional ballots went to DesJarlais or Tracy. However, Grundy and Maury counties had two ballots each, and DesJarlais got one in each county.

If he wins, DesJarlais will have survived a scandal in which it was revealed that the Jasper physician had multiple affairs with patients, urged a pregnant girlfriend to have an abortion and used a gun to intimidate his first wife. DesJarlais was first elected in 2010 on a conservative family-values platform, and he had previously tried to cast doubt on reports of affairs and abortions.

Court documents released shortly after the 2012 election validated those reports. Last year, the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners fined and reprimanded DesJarlais for having sex with patients.

Tracy raised far more money than DesJarlais, but DesJarlais' tea party base appeared willing to overlook his personal scandals.

Earlier this week, DesJarlais called on Tracy to concede. His spokesman, Robert Jameson, said in a statement that it is "statistically impossible" for Tracy to close the gap in votes.

"Once the provisional ballots are finished being counted we believe it would be appropriate for the senator to concede for the good of the district and for the good of the Tennessee Republican Party," Jameson said.

Tracy did not immediately return a call to The AP on Thursday, but his campaign has said no decisions will be made before election results are officially certified later this month.

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