By Justin Sink
Embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) will undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatments for early-stage cancer in his neck.
DesJarlais will be treated in Chattanooga beginning next week and is expected to make a full recovery. In a statement, he said he did not expect the treatments to interfere with his work, and was grateful the cancer was caught early.
House Oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa also issued a supportive statement to the paper.
"Cancer is cancer and I want Scott to do whatever he needs to take care of his health, but Scott's prognosis is good and he has told me this won't stop him from continuing to play a key role in our numerous efforts at the Oversight Committee," Issa said. "He's one of the most effective and reliable members of our committee and this challenge won't change that."
The Tennessee lawmaker is facing a tough primary challenge from state senator Jim Tracy, after a series of revelations about his personal life surfaced. In a 2001 divorce filing, the pro-life congressman’s ex-wife said she had two abortions early in their relationship with DesJarlais’s support. It was also revealed that the physician had carried out an affair with a patient, who also had an abortion.
Tracy has mounted a successful fundraising effort, and DesJarlais is not receiving support from national Republicans wary of association with the scandal. Tracy outpaces DesJarlais more than four-to-one in campaign cash, according to first quarter fundraising reports.
But a poll released by a group backing his reelection suggested that he still held a powerful incumbency advantage. The survey showed DesJarlais with a 45-20 percent lead over Tracy, although 30 percent of the survey respondents remained undecided.