Saying he “doesn’t want additional weeks of litigation,” State Senator Jim Tracy Monday morning conceded a 38-vote primary loss to incumbent 4th District Congressman Scott DesJarlais instead of taking the challenge directly the Tennessee Republican Party.
During his first public interview since the dramatic August 7 election night, Sen. Tracy told News 2, “In talking with family and a lot of prayer and thought, I looked at all the evidence that we had, looked at the election, had to rethink everything and made my decision. I thought people were ready to move on, it was time to move on.”
Tracy felt there were “inconsistencies” in the hair-thin results, but did not think it was worth pursuing them with a general election for the congressional seat still ahead in November.
As for inconsistencies, Tracy cited some votes by people not on rolls who should have gotten provisional ballots, but voted on machines, and voters given ballots for the general election, not the primary.
A Tracy campaign spokesperson told News 2 “if given time to confirm irregularities, it could have reversed outcome” but the candidate says he did not want that uncertainty.
“When you are dealing with a primary its very time sensitive to do that,” Tracy said in his News 2 interview. “It would be very difficult to go through the process, and the party needs to move on have their nominee on the ballot with 45 days to get [the ballot] mailed out to military folks and absentee(s).”
Tracy said he called Rep. DesJarlais about 15 minutes before the news release about the concession. He said he left two messages but did not speak directly to the congressman.
“I have called Rep. DesJarlais to inform him of my decision to concede and congratulated him,” Tracy said in the statement sent earlier on Monday morning. “One reason why I am at peace about my decision is that I am devoted to my service as the Senator from the Fourteenth Senatorial District of Tennessee.”
When asked if he would support Rep. DesJarlais in the November election against Democrat Lenda Sherrell, Tracy said “as always I will support the Republican party and their nominee.”
Shortly after the statement was sent by Sen. Tracy, the congressman’s office did respond with its own statement:
“I want to thank the people of Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District for once again putting their faith in my ability to serve them; I promise I will never take that trust for granted. I am glad we can now come together as Republicans and start focusing on the general election in November,” read the statement in its entirety.
A DesJarlais spokesperson indicated that the messages left by Sen. Tracy came while the congressman was undergoing a round of chemotherapy for neck cancer which was diagnosed earlier this summer.
Both Tracy and DesJarlais quickly retained election lawyers as each county in the congressional district first counted provisional ballots in the days following the election and then certified results after all ballot were counted.
Tracy declined to comment on the record about why he chose to declare victory on election night before the results became final, but sources outside his campaign have said he “obviously had received some bad numbers.”
Tracy had the option of challenging the outcome before the party’s state primary board which is comprised of all members from the party’s state executive committee.
It would have been the first time in anyone’s memory that a candidate had challenged results in a Republican congressional primary.
- Aug. 22, 2014: Sen. Tracy plans Monday decision about challenging DesJarlais vote
- Aug. 19, 2014: Sen. Jim Tracy to make decision by end of week on vote challenge
- Aug. 9, 2014: DesJarlais confident and cautious about primary lead
- Aug. 7, 2014: DesJarlais camp consulting with Bush v. Gore lawyers