NASHVILLE, Tenn. - U.S. Representative Scott DesJarlais won a second term on Tuesday, despite a recent scandal involving a mistress and abortion rights.
DesJarlais won over State Senator Eric Stewart, the Democratic nominee in the 4th District. Stewart had hoped that the election year scandal would encourage voters who back the Republican presidential candidate to split their tickets to vote for him.
Early in October, a recorded phone conversation was released in which DesJarlais, speaking with an alleged mistress, suggests to the woman they travel to Atlanta get an abortion. DesJarlais said that the woman in question was not pregnant at the time of their conversation.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Jasper physician who opposes abortion rights, sent a letter to his supporters saying that the relationship with a patient occurred while DesJarlais was separated from his first wife. He acknowledged he was going through a difficult divorce at the time, and blamed his ex-wife, the congressman he defeated in 2010 and his Democratic opponent for publicizing details from his past.
"We endured the methods used in the last election and they didn't work and they didn't work this time. The people of Tennessee 4th district understand what it takes," said DesJarlais.
DesJarlais, who opposes abortion rights, largely withdrew from public sight a month ago after the first news accounts based on his 2001 divorce emerged. His campaign used a heavy rotation of TV ads to link Stewart to President Barack Obama, an unpopular figure in the conservative 4th District.
On Friday, the state's Democratic Party filed a motion to have all documents related to DesJarlais' possible unethical sexual relationships with patients be open for review by the voters in Tennessee's Fourth Congressional District. Although a judge ruled to unseal the records, they were not produced before Election Day.
"I spent my last term in office trying to do what I promised the first time around, that was to repeal Obamacare, get control of the spending and the deficit and I look forward to continuing to do that as soon as assuming Rutherford County turns out the way we want it to," said Desjarlais.
Stewart released the following statement after the election:
"The voters have spoken. I'm proud of the campaign we ran. We talked about fighting for working families, keeping promises we made to our seniors about Medicare and Social Security, and giving our men and women in uniform the support they need and deserve. The fight for those things hasn't ended, even though my campaign for Congress has. Congress needs to stop fighting and start fixing. Working families depend on it."
DesJarlais' win means that all nine members of the Tennessee congressional delegation were re-elected, as was Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)