Tag Archives: Stewart

More on 4th Congressional District Fight (including comments from voters & a blogger)

The Chattanooga Times-Free Press and the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal both have weekend stories on the 4th Congressional District races, including comments of voters reacting – or in some cases not reacting – to revelations about Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais’ conversation on abortion with a woman after a sexual encounter.
Sample from the TFP report:
Staunchly Republican and socially conservative, Rebecca Miller of Cleveland, Tenn., is troubled by the revelation that Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais pressured a woman with whom he’d been sexually involved to get an abortion.
“It’s extremely hypocritical,” the 23-year-old said. “You can’t argue with that at all.”
Miller is finding it difficult to take the apparently abortion rights phone call made by the Jasper physician to the unnamed woman and square it with his staunchly anti-abortion stance in speeches and his voting record in Congress.
The result is that Miller is considering leaving her ballot blank in the Nov. 6 election when it comes to the 4th District race. She wants to take a look first, though, at the positions of DesJarlais’ Democratic challenger, state Sen. Eric Stewart.
…David Wasserman, who follows U.S. House races for The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan publication that analyzes and handicaps federal races, said on Friday that the revelations’ impact on DesJarlais is an “open question.”
“We weren’t expecting this [4th District] to be a competitive race, but we’re keeping an open mind,” Wasserman said.

Another interesting commentary comes from conservative blogger David Oatney, commenting on DesJarlais’ defense of his remarks in the transcript. An excerpt:
Here is a newsflash for the good Congressman: Whether there was an “agreement” or not, he was a married man and he was quite obviously sleeping around. Whether he thought that was acceptable behaviour at the time is irrelevant to whether or not this woman was his mistress. He was married, and this lady was his extra-marital love interest. The traditional term for a female extra-marital love interest is that she is a man’s mistress.
DesJarlais further states that his primary reason for bringing up the issue of his mistress having an abortion and for pushing the issue in such strong terms is because he says he believed that his mistress was lying about her pregnancy. Since DesJarlais is a doctor, he certainly may have had reason to suspect if the woman he was seeing was lying.
However, the honorable thing to do would not have been to push the issue of having an abortion, but to push the matter of parental responsibility. Since he and his then-wife were divorcing, there should have been no problem with him demanding to be a part of his unborn child’s life, and pressing the matter even while the child was still in the womb. Certainly if this writer were in a similar situation, he would demand to have a role in the life of his unborn child. Scott DesJarlais certainly had the ability and the resources to press his claim hard, and if his mistress was lying about being pregnant and he expected that, then the lie would certainly be revealed in very short order.
Instead, we are left with a recording of Scott DesJarlais (one that he now says he didn’t know was being made) seeming to insist that his mistress abort his unborn child. What’s the problem with that in light of what Scott DesJarlais is now telling us? Because the one thing DesJarlais isn’t saying is that his actions were completely wrong and inconsistent with his belief system, and that he was and now remains truly sorry for his behavior.

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DesJarlais: No Pregnancy, No Abortion, No Broken Marriage Vows

Congressman Scott DesJarlais tells Andy Sher that there was no pregnancy and no abortion from his sexual relationship discussed in a 12-year-old transcript that has received wide attention this week. He also suggests the relationship did not break his marriage vows because he and his wife at the time had agreed they could “see other people” during protracted divorce proceedings.
“There was no pregnancy and there was no abortion,” the 4th Congressional District representative told the Times Free Press today.
DesJarlais, a freshman lawmaker who opposes abortion, is battling a controversy over a transcript of a recorded conversation in which he presses the unnamed woman to get an abortion.
“I was attempting to use strong language to get her to tell me the truth,” said DesJarlais, who added that he didn’t record the conversation and had no idea it was being recorded.
The congressman has come under attack from Democratic opponent Eric Stewart over the transcript, first reported by the Huffington Post earlier this week.
According to the transcript, DesJarlais questioned the woman on why she hadn’t taken steps toward terminating the pregnancy.
“You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” DesJarlais is quoted as saying. “If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let’s do it.”
…DesJarlais said he pushed the issue because as a doctor he knew the woman should have been showing signs of pregnancy because “it was approximately four months from the time that I had been with her.”
Moreover, DesJarlais said, a mutual friend strongly cast doubts about the truthfulness of the claims made by the woman, whom he had once treated for an ankle problem.
“Again, there was a lot of poor judgment involved, probably on the part of both parties,” DesJarlais said.
At the time physician was married. But he said he and his then-wife, Susan, were in the midst of divorce proceedings.
“The divorce was [filed] in December of ’98,” he said. “After a period of separation, my wife and I agreed … [and] signed an agreement we could see other people.”
Both did under the agreement, he noted and rejected characterizations of the news characterizations of the woman as his “mistress” and his seeing her an “affair.”

DesJarlais: Mistress Wasn’t Pregnant, After All, So No Abortion

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee congressman, in his first public comments since reports that he once urged a mistress to get an abortion, said Thursday that the woman did not turn out to be pregnant.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a freshman Republican seeking re-election next month, did not further dispute a transcript of a recorded phone conversation in which he appears to urge the woman to terminate the pregnancy. His remarks came in an interview with WTN-FM host Ralph Bristol
“I don’t mind telling people that there was no pregnancy, and no abortion,” DesJarlais said. “But I also don’t mind telling people that this was a protracted two-year divorce back in 1999 and 2000.
“There was some difficult times, for sure,” he said.
The undated phone recording appears to have been made before DesJarlais’ divorce from his wife, Susan, was finalized in 2001.
According to the transcript, DesJarlais, a Jasper physician, told the woman that he was concerned that she hadn’t taken steps toward terminating the pregnancy.
“You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” DesJarlais is quoted as saying. “If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let’s do it.”

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Stewart: DesJarlais Revelations ‘Disgusting’ and ‘Disqualifying’

Revelations that Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais had affairs outside his marriage and pushed a pregnant mistress to get an abortion were branded “disgusting” and “disqualifying” by his Democratic opponent Wednesday.
DesJarlais, seeking his second term as representative in Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District, did not deny the validity of a transcript of a conversation 12 years ago between himself and the pregnant woman. He refused requests for an interview.
DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson sent reporters an email described the reports as “gutter politics” and “character assassination.” He also called them “old news from the last election cycle that Tennesseans have already widely rejected.”
The latter is a reference to TV ads in 2010 aired by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, who cited court records of DesJarlais’ divorce wherein the Jasper physician was described threatening his former wife and as putting a pistol in his mouth and threatening suicide. DesJarlais, a doctor by profession, defeated Davis in the 2010 election.
Reports on the affairs and the abortion, however, had not been made public until published Wednesday by The Huffington Post, a politically-oriented Internet website. The Post said court records show DesJarlais has admitted to at least four affairs.

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DesJarlais and Stewart: Opposing Outsiders

With support for Congress hitting record lows and the presidential contenders at the top of the ticket slugging it out with negative advertising, Chas Sisk reports that Republican U.S. Rep. DesJarlais — and his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Eric Stewart — are running for the 4th Congressional District as outsiders who will go to Washington but not become part of it.
The two candidates’ strategies reflect their differing views of voters in the district.
Democrats say voters know little about DesJarlais — and that the perceptions they do have of him tend to be unfavorable. Polling conducted for the Stewart campaign at the outset of the race in June found that DesJarlais’ name recognition in the 4th District stood at only 54 percent and that voters were more likely to rate his job performance as fair or poor than good or excellent.
Republicans counter that voters in the 4th have shown a clear preference for GOP candidates in recent elections. Polling done for DesJarlais in August found that the GOP had a 25-point advantage on a generic ballot and that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had a 28-point lead over President Barack Obama.
“The election two years ago wasn’t a fluke,” said Adam Nickas, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party. “It was people disenchanted with the Democrat Party coming over to the Republican Party.”
Both candidates’ strategies are built around dissatisfaction, however, and with good reason. Earlier this month, Gallup released a poll that showed only 13 percent of Americans approve of Congress, the lowest rating the firm has ever recorded so close to a general election.
Candidates nationwide have responded by running against Washington — even incumbents who in years past might have touted their experience, seniority or work on local issues.
“When you have a body that’s reached such lows … that’s a good strategy,” Syler said. “For Eric Stewart, being an outsider, he’s going to have an advantage, but I’m sure Congressman DesJarlais, he’s not going to cede that ground.”

DesJarlais Presides Over House, Stirs Democrats’ Ire

Democrat Eric Stewart charged Friday that U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., is showing “complete disregard” to citizens in the 4th Congressional District by refusing to debate him while presiding over a mostly empty U.S. House in Washington, D.C.
In a news release, Stewart describes the congressman’s tenure at the podium as a “power-trip of having a gavel for one day and slamming it down and preventing his colleagues from talking.”
Further from Andy Sher:
He said DesJarlais, who is from Jasper, Tenn., went to Washington “because he doesn’t want to listen to the concerns from people in his district that are not happy about his votes to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 and his votes against giving our military a pay raise.”
DesJarlais was on a flight out of Washington late Friday afternoon and unavailable for comment.
But in a column this week, DesJarlais said the House session keeps President Barack Obama from making recess appointments without congressional consent.
He created a stir Friday during the session when he silenced two Democratic House members who wanted to complain about a “do-nothing Congress” and inaction on a major farm bill, The National Journal reported.
Presiding over the session, DesJarlais slammed his gavel, a sign to shut off the C-SPAN signal. That prompted protests from Democrats and shouts about the nation’s “fiscal cliff” and the farm bill, the publication reported.
According to The National Journal, DesJarlais walked off, leaving Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, shouting about the fiscal cliff and the farm bill.
“We’re about to go over a cliff. We need to stay in session,” Cummings said from the floor. “Mr. Speaker, please don’t leave. Don’t leave, Mr. Speaker.”
In response to DesJarlais’ actions, Stewart said, “today we learned that it’s not just voters in the district, he won’t even listen to his colleagues in Congress that wanted to speak about the issues facing our farmers.”
…The House is out until after the Nov. 6 election, but members can hold a session at which no formal business is conducted.
DesJarlais said in a statement that, if the two Democrats “were really serious about working on these issues,” they should contact Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “and ask them to return to Washington to consider the 30 House-passed jobs bills languishing in the Senate rather than engage in political theater.”

Note: An Eric Stewart press release that touches on the matter is below.

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Stewart Schedules Three Debates; DesJarlais Doesn’t

Democratic Congressional candidate state Sen. Eric Stewart is set for three debates with Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais before the Nov. 6 election, but they won’t happen unless the incumbent agrees to adjust his schedule, reports the Daily News Journal.
Stewart’s campaign said Thursday he will attend three events:
• 6 p.m. Monday in Monteagle set up by GCTV;
• 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in Bradley County held by the Bradley Bar Association;
• and 7 p.m. Oct. 11 to be held by the Southern Standard newspaper in McMinnville.
…But Stewart won’t have anyone to debate unless DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg Republican, decides to fit one into his schedule.
DesJarlais’ campaign said Thursday he will be attending events in and around Manchester Monday and won’t be able to attend. He also has a rally scheduled Oct. 8 in Sequatchie County and will be presiding over a pro-forma session of Congress Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C, when the McMinnville debate is scheduled.
“As a result, we will not be attending these (debate) events,” DesJarlais campaign manager Brandon Lewis said.
James Clark, editor of the Southern Standard, said DesJarlais’ campaign was “non-committal” from the beginning and notified him Wednesday that DesJarlais could not attend the Oct. 11 event.
“It’s my feeling that no matter what the date or the circumstance,” DesJarlais won’t join a debate held by the Standard, Clark said.
DesJarlais “backed out” of a debate scheduled by the Standard two years ago, Clark said. He added that the newspaper also invited DesJarlais to debate immediately after the latest Aug. 2 election, but his campaign said that was “too much notice” and hasn’t cooperated even though the newspaper offered to set different dates.

Note: A Stewart campaign release is below.

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Bredesen Comes ‘Semi’ Out of Retirement to Endorse Stewart

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen is campaigning for 4th Congressional District hopeful Eric Stewart, a Democratic state senator who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, reports Andy Sher.
“I think so highly of Eric that I’ve kind of semi come out of retirement here to come out and try to do anything I possibly can to help him in this campaign,” Bredesen told attendees Tuesday in Murfreesboro.
The former governor said Stewart, who was elected to the Senate in 2008, impressed him during his own final two years in office by his willingness to work out differences on tough issues while keeping constituents’ needs in mind.
That’s a quality increasingly lost in an increasingly rancorous Washington, said Bredesen.
“One of the things I admire most of all about Eric is I think that he is someone who will go to … Congress with an attitude of not [that] Congress is the problem or that Republicans are the problem or anything else,” the former governor said.
Stewart thanked Bredesen and said federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle sometimes lack the “intestinal fortitude” to make necessary decisions.

House District 52: Stewart vs. Libertarian Lewis

State Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, will face independent candidate and outspoken libertarian Daniel Lewis in a newly drawn 52nd District seat in the state House in the November general election, reports the Tennessean.
For 10 years, the 52nd District took up most of East Nashville and then went southwest through Lipscomb University. The new district, redrawn by this year’s Republican-led state legislature, now goes from select parts of East Nashville to Antioch, the Nashville airport and parts of Percy Priest Lake.
The new district led Stewart to reach out to many new constituents who have never voted for him.
“I’m getting out there and meeting people in my new district,” he said. “I’ve had a great time going out and talking with people.”
Lewis, 52, is not officially running with a state-recognized Libertarian Party. This election is not his first as an independent. Lewis has previously run for the U.S. Senate in 2008 and for several state House seats.

Stewart: DesJarlais Has a Good Bill, But….

News release from Eric Stewart campaign:
Winchester, Tenn. – State Senator and U.S. Congressional Candidate Eric Stewart supports and encourages Congress to pass the Andrew P. Carpenter Act sponsored by Congressman DesJarlais. Stewart supports this bill by DesJarlais, but says DesJarlais and Congress have failed to provide our veterans and active military with the support they need, especially those men and women returning home from war.
“I fully support and encourage Congress to pass the Andrew P. Carpenter Act,” Stewart said. “But, Congress has done little more than talk about supporting our veterans when they return home from war. They have failed our men and women of uniform on more than one occasion. The volunteers that choose to serve this country should have a Congressman that will fight just as hard for them at home, and when they return home, as they have fought for our freedoms and liberties overseas,” Stewart added.
During his two years in Congress, Congressman DesJarlais hasn’t supported our men and women in uniform, rather, he’s voted against bills that would provide them with the support they need when they return home, voted against giving our military a pay raise while protecting his own pay, and he voted to allow big banks to foreclose on the homes of active service members and veterans.

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