2010 Tennessee 4th District Race: Lincoln Davis Fighting GOP's 'Dr. D.' to Keep District for Democrats

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Tennessee's 4th Congressional District
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Tennessee's 4th Congressional District

Lincoln Davis is a four-term incumbent with a good chance of holding onto his seat in Tennessee's 4th U.S. House District. But he may have met his match this year, as he faces physician Scott DesJarlais in a very close midterm election race.

Candidates for Tennessee's 4th Congressional District (two-year term)

(This district includes all or parts of Bledsoe, Campbell, Coffee, Cumberland, Fentress, Franklin, Giles, Grundy, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Maury, Moore, Morgan, Pickett, Scott, Sequatchie, Van Buren, Warren, White, Hickman, Roane and Williamson counties and the cities of Columbia, Pulaski and La Follette. See a boundary map here.)

Candidate: Lincoln Davis

Party: Democrat

Political experience: Davis has represented the 4th District since 2003, serving on the Appropriations Committee, the Subcommittee on Energy and Water, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Committee on Science and Technology.

Professional experience: Davis owns Diversified Construction Co., a construction business.

Key issues: Lincoln Davis calls himself an "independent conservative," putting some distance between himself and the Democratic majority in Congress. Davis has voted to beef up Head Start's early learning program, which helps improve the learning environment for disadvantaged children, as well as providing necessary social and medical benefits for those lacking access. College students may appreciate that he voted to cut cost for college loans for millions of borrowers, cutting interest rates for need-based loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over four years.

He highlights his support of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families, stating that he voted to modernize the G.I. Bill for soldiers with 90 days of active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001. This bill provides full education benefits for children of vets who died on active duty, and it repealed the Disabled Veterans Tax

Endorsements: Davis touts a long list of endorsements on his website, including the TN AFL-CIO, National Right to Life, National Rifle Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Chances of maintaining his seat: Davis has far out-raised his opponent for campaign money, having raised $788,607; DesJarlais has only raised less than half, $302,364, as reported by OpenSecrets.org. While both have spent about the same amount of money as of mid summer, DesJarlais was practically broke in mid July, with only $23,899 left. Davis, by contrast, still had nearly half a million to advertise with. But this is a very Republican district and this year voters are less likely to trust Democrats, even those they've elected several times before and in particular those that voted for the stimulus bill.

Candidate: Scott "Dr. D." DesJarlais

Party: Republican

Political experience: DesJarlais has no previous political experience. If elected, this would be his first time holding public office.

Professional experience: DesJarlais is a practicing physician at Grand View Medical Center in Jasper.

Key issues: On his website, DesJarlais says he's pro-gun, pro-life and pro-marriage (presumably meaning he's for the traditional definition of marriage). He says his immigration plan would block amnesty and would include a "one way ticket out of the United States." He would impose term limits on both the House and Senate to make sure that those representing their districts are only working for their constituents, not for their own agenda.

Endorsements: DesJarlais has been endorsed by Mitt Romney and is a part of the high-profile "Young Guns" program run by the National Republican Congressional Committee's (NRCC). He has also been endorsed by the Maury County Tea Party and Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Chances of unseating Lincoln Davis: While he's released a poll that shows the race in a dead heat, the August poll is from a Republican as opposed to an independent polling firm. Further, a public and messy divorce noted in the Chattanooga Times Free Press --with accusations of abuse -- has surfaced and may help depress turnout for DesJarlais.

Key Differences between Scott DesJarlais and Lincoln Davis

Jobs: When it comes to jobs, DesJarlais feels that corporate bailouts, wasteful government spending and high taxes are a recipe for job disaster. He wants to stop all potential tax raises dead in their tracks. Davis says that his strong support for projects that benefited the district have resulted in job training for the unemployed and a two-day seminar that provided networking possibilities for those seeking contracting and grant opportunities. He fought to close corporate tax loopholes for those shipping jobs overseas.

Health care: Davis voted against the health care bill, which was probably a good move given the move of his constituency. He lists among his accomplishments a partnership with Martin Methodist College to help boost the nursing and pre-health professions programs. He says he's also brought in funding for new ambulances in Fentress County. DesJarlais doesn't just oppose the health care reform bill; he'd repeal it and fight for market-based reforms.

Tennessee's 4th U.S. Congressional District

Location: The Tennessee 4th District is located in eastern Tennessee and winds from the Kentucky border to the Alabama and Georgia borders to the south. The borders form a right-leaning "J" shape, running south of Nashville and west of Chattanooga and Knoxville.

2008 results: Democrat Lincoln Davis bested Republican Monty Lankford 59 percent to 38 percent.

Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 91.7 percent of the district is white, 3.9 percent black, 2.2 percent Hispanic, 0.3 percent Asian and 0.3 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.

The Cook Partisan Index gives the Tennessee 4th District a rating of R+21, making this a Republican stronghold.

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