DesJarlais camp consulting with Bush v. Gore lawyers

DesJarlais camp consulting with Bush v. Gore lawyers

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Congressman Scott DesJarlais Congressman Scott DesJarlais
Sen. Jim Tracy Sen. Jim Tracy
Sen. Tracy outside his Murfreesboro hotel Friday morning. Sen. Tracy outside his Murfreesboro hotel Friday morning.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais says the campaign is already consulting with some of the nation's top election lawyers "to preserve the integrity" of a 35-vote lead over Tennessee 4th District Republican primary challenger State Senator Jim Tracy.

For its part, a spokesperson for Tracy says the campaign is consulting election lawyers, as well.

A source separate from the campaign told News 2 DesJarlais is enlisting the help of at least one lawyer who was key to the legal team involved in the weeks-long court battle after the 2000 presidential election night.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision was ultimately won by George Bush instead of Al Gore.

DesJarlais’ spokesperson Robert Jameson told News 2, "We are going to take every precaution to preserve the integrity of this result, and if that means bringing in legal counsel, we are prepared to do that."

All this comes after a spokesperson for the Tennessee Secretary of State spokesperson Blake Fontenay said the unofficial 35-vote margin for DesJarlais "won't change today."

He added it “it could take several days” before a winner is declared and possibly well into next week."

One of the outstanding questions to be answered is how many provisional and absentee ballots are out there that could eventually count toward the official total.

In Rutherford County, which has nearly 40% of the district’s vote, interim elections administrator Rhonda McFerrin told News 2 that she has eight provisional ballots that may or may not be verified.

Five of the provisional ballots were cast by people who did not have proper photo ID’s.

McFerrin said they have until Monday at close of business to bring in a photo ID which will validate their ballot.

She also said there are no absentee ballots left to count.

DesJarlais, a physician, won re-election in 2012 despite revelations he urged a patient he was dating to seek an abortion.

Tracy far outraised the DesJarlais campaign and had been expected to easily defeat the incumbent. But DesJarlais' tea party base appeared willing to overlook his past personal problems.

Both Candidates Declare Victory

Sen. Tracy was first to declare victory in the Fourth Congressional District race, beginning his speech to supporters just after 10 p.m. Thursday by saying “We did it!”

“It takes all of us working together, and together we won tonight,” he continued.

Tracy's campaign spokesperson Stephanie Jarnagin released a statement a few hours later indicating they were waiting for votes to be verified.

“There are ballots left to be counted in the Fourth District Republican primary. We eagerly await the final outcome once the counting is completed and verified,” the statement read.

News 2 was with DesJarlais in South Pittsburg throughout the night. In response to Tracy's self-declared victory, he said, “I'd say he sold his soul to the dark side of politics, and I don't know if he'll be able to get that back."

DesJarlais’ declared victory in a statement released Friday afternoon writing, “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. 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. I want to thank Steve Lane and John Anderson for their endorsement and I look forward to focusing on the general election in November.”

Whoever is ultimately declared the winner will take on Democrat Lenda Sherrell, an accountant from Monteagle, and Independent candidate Robert Rankin Doggart in the November general election.

Stay with News 2 for updates on the final results in the Fourth Congressional District race and read more at wkrn.com/election.
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