NASHVILLE — U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., raised just $17,580 for his re-election campaign during the fourth quarter, federal filings show, compared to $151,384 by his GOP primary challenger, state Sen. Jim Tracy, of Shelbyville.
Federal Election Commission filings for Oct. 1-Dec. 31 show Tracy sitting atop a $884,688 campaign war chest. DesJarlais reported $154,474 cash on hand.
But DesJarlais is battling back.
"When I ran for Congress I promised Tennessee's Fourth Congressional District that if elected, I would be an independent, conservative voice who would fight against the Washington status quo," he said in a statement to the Times Free Press.
"I believe I have kept that promise. My opponent is going to need all the money he can get if he hopes to hide what voters already know: That he is just another bought and paid-for career politician hired by the establishment to run their agenda."
Tracy campaign finance chairman Shane Reeves said in a statement that the fourth-quarter figures "clearly show Jim Tracy's momentum in the 4th District" with a large number of individual donors.
Tracy said he and his wife, Trena, "could not be more appreciative of the amount of encouragement we're receiving."
The August primary race has attracted national attention as DesJarlais, who bills himself as an abortion opponent, seeks to overcome a scandal arising from his 2000 divorce that erupted during and following his 2012 bid for a second term.
Court records and transcripts revealed he encouraged a former patient with whom he had had an affair to seek an abortion, and earlier had supported his wife's decision to have two abortions.
DesJarlais, who later remarried, maintains the ex-patient was not pregnant and he was pushing her to acknowledge that. He also has said he has since changed his life, believes God has forgiven him and asked constituents to consider doing the same.
The fourth quarter and its major holidays is considered a slow quarter for fundraising. Still, the latest disclosures show Tracy continuing to pick up support from major Tennessee donors and Washington-based political action committees. PACs contributed $42,250 to Tracy. DesJarlais got no PAC money at all, highly unusual for an incumbent congressman.
Tracy contributors included power players like Orrin Ingram, president of Ingram Industries in Nashville, who gave $2,500, and influential conservatives such as Nashville auto dealer Lee Beaman and Bristol investor John Gregory, who each contributed $2,600.
Donors from Southeast Tennessee include Cleveland-based Gibco Construction owners Duane and Amanda Gilbert, who contributed $2,600 each, and Tennessee Credit Union League Executive Director David Wilson, of Chattanooga.
A number of doctors and other medical professionals contributed as well.
DesJarlais contributors included long-time friend and attorney J. Harvey Cameron, of Jasper, who gave $1,000, and Cabot Hyde of Nashville, president and general counsel at M2G Med-Management Group, who contributed $2,500. Insurance agent Terri Thomas, of Chattanooga, contributed $1,000.
DesJarlais had some industry support as well. Dr. Richard Levine, of Chattanooga, gave $1,000 and Phillip Young, CEO of Southern Tennessee Medical Center in Winchester, gave $75, raising his total contributions during the cycle to $575.
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550.
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, ...