Congressman Scott DesJarlais held off Murfreesboro attorney Grant Starrett in the Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District.
Starrett spent about $1 million in his attempt to dislodge DesJarlais, who’s faced tough races since coming to Congress in the tea party wave six years ago. Previous challengers include state Sen. Jim Tracy and former state Sen. Eric Stewart.
This time around, DesJarlais’s opponent was a young attorney who had never held elected office before. He attacked Starrett for being relatively new to the district, having moved to Rutherford County just last year. DesJarlais called him “Mr. California.”
DesJarlais will take on Steven Reynolds, a construction industry executive, in the general election.
Black Cruises To Victory
Congressman Diane Black, meanwhile, easily defeated former state Representative Joe Carr in the Republican primary.
The three-term member of Congress took 60 percent of the vote in a campaign that had turned very personal. One big issue was Carr’s residency. He lives just outside the 6th Congressional District in Rutherford County.
That was too far for Mt. Juliet voter Gary Hudgens.
“It bothers me,” he said. “If you’re going to run for office, be in the district that you’re supposed to be in. I mean you can’t represent somebody and not be in that district. I mean, you wouldn’t care.”
On the Democratic side, Sumner County resident David Kent won by a two-to-one margin. The district leans heavily Republican.
Memphis Prosecutor Emerges From Crowded GOP Primary
Former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff has won the Republican primary to replace outgoing Congressman Stephen Fincher in the 8th Congressional District in West Tennessee. Kustoff ran unsuccessfully once before, for the 7th Congressional District, more than a decade ago.
Kustoff was appointed US Attorney by George W. Bush and held the post for two years before returning to private practice, primarily in personal injury and family law. He previously served as Shelby County Republican Party Chairman and on the state executive committee for the Tennessee GOP.
Kustoff spent about a quarter of the amount on his campaign that rival George Flinn did. The radiologist and perennial candidate, who came in second by around 2,500 votes votes, spent nearly $2 million of his own money for his third Congressional bid.
Both men declared they would be vying for the seat just minutes after Fincher’s surprise announcement this spring that he would not run for a fourth term. They were joined by 11 other Republican contenders, including state Senator Brian Kelsey, who didn’t even crack the top three.
The heavily Republican 8th Congressional District extends from suburban Memphis to the Tennessee River.
In Shelby County, Kustoff had nearly 35 percent of the vote, to Flinn’s roughly 16 percent, but districtwide he won by just over four percentage points.