Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District is more rural than all but three other districts in the country, and is the home of the famous Jack Daniel’s sour-mash distillery. The Fourth’s past is rich with historical leaders – the area was first settled by Andrew Jackson in the 1790s and, later, President James Polk called it home. The district’s economy is largely based on industry and agriculture, and while many workers are employed in a Nissan engine manufacturing plant, cattle remain the district’s number one commodity.
It is staunchly conservative and has a Cook PVI rating of R+13. Even still, the district has been held since 2002 by Lincoln Davis, a Democrat. Since Davis has been in office, he has enjoyed victories despite the district’s overwhelming support for Republican presidential candidates: in 2004, President Bush won with 58% of the vote and, in 2008, McCain trounced Obama by locking up an overwhelming 64% of the vote. Although Lincoln Davis attempts to talk like a Blue Dog when he is at home, he has slowly compiled a left-leaning voting record while in Washington.
Originally hailed as an old-school Southern Democrat who identified with the cultural conservatism of the area, Davis was able to win over some right-leaning voters. In recent times, however, Davis has voted with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats on nearly 95% of the time. Given his gravitation towards the left at the expense of his conservative constituents, it isn’t surprising that the Knoxville News-Sentinel’s Tom Humphrey reported on a poll showing Davis “vulnerable” to a strong GOP opponent. It’s not shocking that his out-of-touch voting record is keeping him from hidden from constituents this August.
Middle and East Tennesseans are fortunate to have a strong GOP challenger this year in Dr. Scott DesJarlais. Scott, a local physician, has extensive experience working in and around the healthcare system, and he’s pledged to pursue meaningful reforms that drive costs down rather than government takeovers. Scott’s stances on social issues resonate with the voters here – he’s an unapologetic defender of the Second Amendment, and is staunchly pro-life.