DesJarlais faced a big challenge. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated: 11:00 a.m. | It was a night of small margins in Tennessee Thursday with one House Republican narrowly defeating his primary challenger and another clinging to a 33-vote lead headed into Friday morning.
The Associated Press called the race for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann with 98 percent of precincts reporting in Tennessee’s 3rd District. Fleischmann garnered 50.8 percent of the vote against venture capitalist Weston Wamp, the son of former Rep. Zach Wamp.
Fleischmann will face Democrat Mary Headrick in November, a contest rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Over in the Volunteer State’s 4th district, initial numbers showed Rep. Scott Desjarlais with a 33-vote lead with all precincts reporting, but those numbers were updated Friday morning, and left DesJarlais trailing by 2. The AP has not yet called that race.
Alexander's internal polling shows him with a strong primary lead. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
A fresh poll conducted for Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign found he continues to hold a comfortable lead with just more than a week to go in the Tennessee Republican primary.
Alexander took 53 percent in the poll, according to a memo the Alexander campaign provided at CQ Roll Call’s request. State Rep. Joe Carr, Alexander’s most prominent challenger, took 24 percent, followed by physician George Flinn with 5 percent. The four other candidates in the race took 1 percent or less. Full story
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, raised over $900,000 for his re-election bid in the second quarter, his campaign said Wednesday. He also launched a new ad featuring the senator arguing with President Barack Obama.
Alexander now has $3.4 million cash on hand, according to his campaign, with just over a month to go until Tennessee’s Aug. 8 Republican primary.
The new ad shows C-SPAN footage of the White House Healthcare Summit in February of 2010. Alexander was one of several Republicans to attend the bipartisan meeting, and at one point, he engaged with Obama over whether healthcare premiums would rise as a result of Obamacare.
“When you said, ‘premiums go up,’ that’s just not case,” Obama says in the clip, addressing Alexander.
“The Congressional Budget Office report says that premiums will rise,” Alexander responds.
“No, no, no, no, and this is an example of where we’ve got to get our facts straight,” Obama says.
“That’s my point,” says Alexander.
“Lamar was proven right,” a narrator says in the ad.
The ad will begin running statewide on July 6, according to the campaign.
Alexander faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Joe Carr. Carr has drawn significantly more attention in recent weeks since House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was defeated in a primary by unknown and underfunded college professor Dave Brat. He recently went up with his first ad of the campaign, attacking Alexander for voting for the Senate’s immigration overhaul bill.
The race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Newt Gingrich endorsed Alexander in Tennessee. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich endorsed Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Thursday.
“We need Lamar’s experience and shrewdness to fix Washington,” Gingrich, a Georgia Republican and former presidential candidate, said in a statement released by the Alexander campaign.
Alexander, a second-term senator, is heavily favored to win his Republican primary on Aug. 7. Conservatives initially marked Alexander as a potential primary target in 2014, but top opposition never came close to materializing like some of his colleagues, for example Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
DesJarlais had a tough fundraising quarter, taking in just $39,000. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais, the anti-abortion Republican physician accused of encouraging his wife and mistress to have multiple abortions, raised just $39,000 in the second quarter, according to his most recent report to the Federal Election Commission. It’s a paltry sum for an incumbent member and signals more trouble for his re-election prospects in 2014.
DesJarlais’ weak fundraising quarter and measly $88,000 in cash on hand casts doubt on whether he can run a competitive campaign against two well-funded Republican primary challengers. His 4th District is the state’s largest and most expensive congressional district in which to run a television campaign.
DesJarlais’ primary opponents — state Sen. Jim Tracy and state Rep. Joe Carr — raised $303,000 and $100,000, respectively, in the second quarter and count former DesJarlais supporters among their donors, according to sources from both campaigns.
“The question from Republican viewers of the race isn’t just, ‘Where does he go for the money?’ but, ‘Where does he go for the support from voters?’” an unaffiliated Tennessee GOP operative said of DesJarlais. Full story
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., placed a six-figure television buy more than a year ahead of Tennessee’s primary, enlisting Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul as a guest star, according to an Alexander spokesman.
The reservation will run statewide from July 8-21 and cost about $180,000. It includes broadcast and cable reservations and $24,000 in radio advertising.
The Lamar camp provided the ad for the buy to CQ Roll Call and noted that he had a $2 million second-quarter fundraising haul. The ad is an anti-government, “positive” spot about fishing rights.
A week ago, Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote to group supporters of his interest in supporting a primary challenge against Alexander if “a strong, conservative” candidate emerges.
Tennessee’s GOP primary is scheduled on Aug. 7, 2014.
Republican leaders on Capitol Hill were largely silent as new revelations stemming from Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ messy decade-old divorce came to light Thursday.
The office of Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio declined to comment on a report in the Chattanooga Times Free Press that said the Tennessee lawmaker and doctor had “sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn.” The paper also reported that records showed DesJarlais “supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage.”
The revelations came from DesJarlais’ 2001 sworn testimony from his divorce trial. A staunch social conservative, the freshman Congressman has run for office as an anti-abortion candidate.
At votes Thursday afternoon, DesJarlais was seen having an intense conversation with Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan on the House floor. Jordan is the outgoing chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. Full story