WASHINGTON -- Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) declared victory Friday in his extremely close re-election battle, saying his "conservative record" enabled him to outpace a challenger who launched "desperate and disgusting personal attacks."
According to Tennessee's Secretary of State, DesJarlais led state Sen. Jim Tracy by just 35 votes, with a handful of provisional ballots to be counted in the Republican primary.
DesJarlais' political future was all but written off two years ago after HuffPost uncovered court documents that showed DesJarlais, a physician, pressured a patient who was his mistress to get an abortion. It was later revealed that the pro-life congressman had approved of his first wife having two abortions, and that he'd had sex with at least two patients. Tennessee medical authorities found he had violated ethical standards by sleeping with his patients and fined him $500.
Tracy raised at least three times as much money as DesJarlais, and hit him late in the campaign on the affairs and abortions, but was unable to seal the deal with voters. Several reports suggested that evangelical voters in the district simply forgave DesJarlais.
“I am truly honored that the folks of the Fourth Congressional District put their faith in my ability to continue to serve them effectively in Washington," DesJarlais said in a statement. "My campaign made it clear from the beginning we would run on my independent, conservative record and that is precisely what we did.
"While my opponent engaged in desperate and disgusting personal attacks, at the end of the day voters cared more about the job I have done in Congress," he added. "I look forward to focusing on the general election in November.”
Tracy, however has not conceded, and a DesJarlais spokesman said he expected the result to be challenged.
Tracy spokeswoman Stephanie Jarnigan told The Tennessean that he would not decide whether he would concede until the results were finalized, which could take up to three weeks.