Underdog DesJarlais strives to overcome ‘Anthony Weiner problem’

Chas Sisk has a profile piece on Scott DesJarlais and his reelection campaign, which he says is simply aimed at being the voice of 4th Congressional District voters, whether that involved attacking the Obama administration or pushing for veterans benefits. And his wife is helping deflect criticism over allegations of abortion and inappropriate relationships with patients in old DesJarlais divorce files.

An excerpt:

The one-time outsider now presents himself as a legislator who wants to work across party lines and solve his constituents’ problems.

“I look at it this way,” DesJarlais told about a dozen people in the basement of a Farm Bureau Insurance office in Murfreesboro earlier this month. “It’s pretty simple: There’s 700,000 people in a congressional district, they pick someone to represent them, and my job basically is to come to listen and get a feel for what goes on in my district.

“And then I go back to Washington and when it comes time to vote, I hopefully vote for the majority. But it takes outreach.”

The approach requires finesse for a candidate who has entertained the notion that the Affordable Care Act may have been a plot to destabilize the health care industry and bring about “socialized medicine.” It has meant putting some distance between himself and the tea party activists who have been his strongest supporters.

But asking voters to focus on his record also changes the subject from the topic that hangs over his campaign: his divorce file.

…“There are questions that go to his character, his judgment,” said Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of a national political handicapping newsletter. “This is kind of the Anthony Weiner problem. There comes a time when you’ve so violated the public’s trust.”

…But it’s unlikely such piecemeal vote-gathering will add up to a winning campaign strategy, said Rothenberg. He cited DesJarlais’ fundraising difficulties and noted that the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, a political action committee associated with the conservative organization, last week endorsed Tracy.

“DesJarlais is going to lose, and he’s going to lose badly,” predicted Rothenberg.
There’s little evidence to suggest Rothenberg is wrong. Then again, there was little to suggest DesJarlais ever would have been a congressman in the first place.