Speed Reads

2014 Watch

Scandal-plagued Rep. Scott DesJarlais narrowly ahead against Republican primary challenger

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) may just be surviving against a very tough Republican primary challenge back home, despite a well-funded effort by many in the party to force him out of office.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, DesJarlais currently has 34,787 votes, for 44.89 percent of the vote, against state Sen. Jim Tracy's 34,752 votes, or 44.85 percent — a lead of just 35 votes, out of nearly 77,500 total votes counted. Another four candidates have also split a total of 7,953 additional votes in the Republican primary.

The Tennesseean explains that this still isn't over: "The results are unofficial. Tennessee does not have an automatic recount law, but a candidate can request one from state and party officials. There also could be uncounted absentee or provisional ballots."

DesJarlais has been in big political trouble ever since the late days of the 2012 campaign, and continuing afterward. Records of his very messy first marriage and 2001 divorce came to public light, including that DesJarlais — who has run as a staunchly anti-abortion conservative — supported his first wife in having two abortions. The records also said that DesJarlais had multiple affairs, including with patients at his medical practice, and he even encouraged one of the women to get an abortion.

DesJarlais would explain that in fact there was no abortion — as the woman was not actually pregnant, after all. DesJarlais also said that he has had a "near perfect" marriage to his second wife, and that he wished to be judged on that instead of the very difficult earlier period in his life.