Many in GOP Standing Behind DesJarlais Despite Difficulties

While some Republicans have distanced themselves from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, Andy Sher finds some in the 4th Congressional District standing by him despite recent revelations.
“I’d heard great things about him from some other Republican folks out there,” said (Austin Maxwell) the Rutherford County Republican Party chairman, adding he was impressed with both the Jasper physician and his wife of 10 years, Amy DesJarlais. “I’ve got friends who go to church with them.”
Maxwell said he continues to stand by the anti-abortion freshman lawmaker amid revelations that DesJarlais, first elected in 2010, once encouraged a patient he slept with a dozen years ago to have an abortion.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Maxwell of the revelation that came out of records from DesJarlais’ bitter divorce with his then-wife, Susan. “Divorces sometimes can be very pleasant. But they sometimes can be very nasty. This is obviously something from 10, 11, 12 years ago from his first marriage.”
…That has resonance for retiree Tricia Stickel, president of the Maury County Tea Party.
“In the scheme of things, who he is now [and] the issues that we have in our government today, personal relationship mistakes [and] bitter divorces 12 years ago are personally insignificant,” she said.
Franklin County Republican Party Chairwoman Iris Rudder said she got to know DesJarlais and his family when he campaigned two years ago and won an upset victory over then-U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn.
“He is a good man, and I’m proud to have him as my congressman,” Rudder said. “I like the fact that he does what he says he will do. He represented the people according to their wishes” and opposed the federal health care law.
She said “talking about a divorce that’s 12 years old, the past, does not get a job for anyone in the 4th District. … It doesn’t do anything to make lives better.”
…(O)n Friday, DesJarlais got good news from the two top U.S. House leaders, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported Friday that spokesmen for the officials are maintaining their support of DesJarlais.
“He supports every Republican incumbent who is running for office,” said Cantor spokesman Doug Heye.

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