Even if Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais wins Tuesday, it seems unlikely he will make it through the 2014 primary season.
And she hit DesJarlais on his values.
“At the end of the day, Eric is someone who represents Tennessee values,” she said. “I have trouble believing that Tennessee values include having sex with one patient after another.”
Whatever his values, DesJarlais is a Republican in a district that has a very strong Republican bent — it would have voted 64 percent for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election. And a big percentage of the population there votes early. That could well lock in a DesJarlais victory before Tuesday.
Assuming he survives Election Day, DesJarlais will have a much steeper hill to climb next cycle.
Four plugged-in Tennessee Republican insiders told Roll Call that it didn’t look like DesJarlais would make it through the 2014 primary cycle.
“Does he run again? Does he get dug in? Does he get bullied out?” one Tennessee Republican consultant wondered. “That’s going to be an interesting story from 15 seconds after the polls close.”
Indeed, there are already Republican names being floated by insiders as potential primary challengers, including state Sen. Jim Tracy, state Reps. Kevin Brooks and Joe Carr, former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble, businessman Shane Reeves and state Speaker Pro Tem Judd Matheny.
“You’re probably looking at at least a five-way primary,” a Tennessee Republican strategist said.
And it could well be a fight to the right.
The district, which includes rural and suburban areas, has a strong contingent of members of the Southern Baptist Church and the Church of Christ.
“You go into these little courthouse town squares, and there’s a big Baptist Church and a big Church of Christ downtown,” the Tennessee GOP operative said. “A lot of that district is extremely conservative.”
Though the district was changed in the decennial redistricting process, it was won by a Democrat as recently as 2008. In 2010, DesJarlais unseated then-Rep. Lincoln Davis (D) 57 percent to 39 percent. DesJarlais won a multicandidate primary with 37 percent of the vote.