DesJarlais Diplomatic on Prospective Opposition from Ketron

Freshman U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais was questioned by Action Andy Sher on the prospect of facing opposition in next year’s 4th District Republican primary — after redistricting — from state Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron.
DesJarlais sidestepped questions about Ketron, saying he is “honored to represent the people of all 24 counties that make up Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District.”
“Right now, I’m completely focused on representing my constituents and addressing critical issues,” he said.
Calling redistricting a “big task,” DesJarlais said state legislators and Republican Gov. Bill Haslam “have already proven themselves more than capable of tackling big challenges.” He said he looks forward to working with state officials “on a host of issues important to the people of Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District.”
DesJarlais, a physician, upset (former Democratic Rep. Lincoln) Davis in November elections. Unlike Ketron, the political newcomer is not that well known in the legislature, according to GOP political observers. (Ketron sits on the redistricting committee.)
Rutherford, population 262,604, has been a part of the 6th Congressional District for decades. But the 6th District, which surrounds part of Nashville and extends east along part of the Cumberland Plateau, is 83,631 people above the target congressional district size of 705,123.
For the first time in more than a quarter century, the 6th District seat is held by someone from outside Rutherford, Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black, of Gallatin in Sumner County.
The 4th Congressional District is 17,115 people below the target size. The district stretches from Campbell County in East Tennessee south into Sequatchie, Grundy, Franklin and Coffee counties southwest below Nashville before stopping in Hickman County.
Rutherford is nearly 10 times as large as DesJarlais’ Marion County base. Parts of the existing 4th District would have to be taken out to put Rutherford into it. Even then, it would constitute nearly a third of the new ideal district size.

Ketron, meanwhile, says it’s premature to talk about his potential candidacy. But he does foresee change for the 4th District and Rutherford County.
“If Rutherford doesn’t move into the 4th, then it’s probably going to be split,” Ketron said, noting Rutherford County political leaders and the legislative delegation “don’t want it to be split.”

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