Less than one week after winning an unopposed primary and entering the season leading to November's general election, Democratic 4th Congressional District candidate and state Sen. Eric Stewart is challenging Rep. Scott DesJarlais to a series of three debates over the next month.
In a news release, Stewart said he had sent an email to the congressman extending the challenge and set a deadline of next Monday for DesJarlais to respond.Â
"I was born in Middle Tennessee and have lived here my whole life," Stewart said. "Folks around here want candidates to debate, so they can learn about who is running for office and the candidate's positions on the most important issues to this district. Voters also want the chance to look both candidates in the eyes and sometimes ask tough questions to see if they can trust the man or woman they vote for."
Brandon Lewis, spokesman for the DesJarlais campaign, did not indicate if the congressman would accept Stewart's challenge. Lewis pointed to vote tallies from last week's primary and suggested 4th District residents were not interested in hearing Stewart's positions on issues.
"After receiving less than 30 percent of the total primary vote, it makes sense that [Stewart] is looking for ways to make himself more known to voters," Lewis said. "The primary election vote totals show that the conservative electorate is energized and excited to join the congressman in his fight against Obama's big government that is killing jobs here in Tennesseeâpolicies that have been embraced by our opponent like Obamacare."
In last week's Republican primary, DesJarlais beat his only opponent, Shannon Kelley, in a score of 36,081 votes to 10,923 votes. Stewart, who ran in the Democratic primary unopposed, garnered 17,371 votes.
The general election is Nov. 6.
Updated @ 8:27 a.m.Â on 08/08/12 to correct a typographical error.