Tally in key county in DesJarlais race delayed

Associated Press Modified: November 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm •  Published: November 6, 2012
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais posted a wide lead on Democratic challenger Eric Stewart late Tuesday, but vote counting problems in the largest county in the 4th District delayed a final tally.

With 67 percent of precincts reporting, DesJarlais had 77,313 votes, or 59 percent, compared with Stewart's 54,523, or 41 percent.

But officials in Rutherford County, where more than 100,000 people voted four years ago, were still processing absentee ballots late Tuesday, which could push a final result toward midnight.

Stewart campaign manager Kevin Teets noted that Rutherford County makes up 37 percent of the total votes in the 4th District.

DesJarlais' re-election bid has been rocked over the last month by revelations that the Jasper physician once had an affair with a patient and urged her to get an abortion.

Tennessee voters also chose Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama and elected the GOP's Bob Corker to another six-year term in the U.S. Senate.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who lost to Rick Santorum in the state's Republican primary in March, had few problems gaining Tennessee's 11 electoral votes.

With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had 1.37 million votes, or 59 percent, compared with Obama's 892,968 votes, or 39 percent. Tennessee has voted for the Republican presidential candidate in each election since 2000.

Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, easily defeated Democrat Mark Clayton, a part-time floor installer who was disavowed by the state party after the primary for his anti-gay views. Corker had 1.4 million votes, or 65 percent, compared with Clayton's 655,438 votes, or 30 percent.

Corker said in his victory speech that he hoped the nation's focus would quickly turn from elections to the federal budget.

"I really believe that we are one fiscal reform package away from being able to focus on the greatness of this nation," Corker said. "It's my hope that tomorrow we will begin as a nation — Republicans and Democrats — working toward that end."

DesJarlais was able to reach the finish line of his re-election bid before potentially damaging trial transcripts from his volatile 2001 divorce were made public. DesJarlais' attorney blocked the release until a transcript was complete, and Democratic Party officials said the court reporter couldn't finish the work in time for voters to evaluate the records before the polls would close.