published Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Top Republican leaders back Jim Tracy over U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais

NASHVILLE -- Top Republican state House leaders said today they're backing state Sen. Jim Tracy in his GOP primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the party's 4th Congressional District primary.

House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville, Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga, Republican Caucus Glen Casada of Franklin and House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson of Clarksville are all backing Tracy, a Republican from Shelbyville.

Tracy said in a news release he is "honored and humbled" for the support in his quest to unseat DesJarlais.

“I appreciate the confidence my colleagues have placed in my conservative principles and leadership ability.”

The Tracy campaign ballyooed the endorsements as joining a "growing list of leaders in Tennessee supporting Tracy against the embattled DesJarlais.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Republican Senate speaker, and most GOP senators have already endorsed Tracy.

DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician first elected in 2010, has been embroiled in controversy since the latter part of his 2012 race following revelations that he in 2000 had an affair with a patient and encouraged her to obtain an abortion when she said she was pregnant. That information came out of self-proclaimed pro-life lawmaker's 2000 divorce along with revelations that he had agreed with his then-wife's decision to seek an abortion.

DesJarlais says he never thought the patient was actually pregnant. And he says after his divorce he remarried, found new faith in God and would like constituents to forgive his past and focus on who he is today.

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