- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Some 22 candidates have lined up for the Tennessee 8th Congressional District race to replace Stephen Fincher in Congress, while Diane Black faces a challenge in Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. Scott DesJarlais is again seeking to hold on to his 4th District seat.

Candidates for Tennessee’s nine seats in the House of Representatives faced a Thursday deadline to file documents saying they intend to run.

Fincher is the only incumbent not running for re-election this year. He announced in February that he was retiring from his 8th District seat, which includes part of Shelby County and a swath of rural west Tennessee. Cities in the district include Jackson, Dyersburg and Union City, in addition to the Memphis suburbs of Collierville and Germantown.

The 8th District is heavily Republican and is considered a safe GOP seat in November’s elections. President Barack Obama lost the district’s vote in both his 2008 and 2012 races by 2-1 margins.

Fincher, 43, said during his first campaign in 2010 that he was not a career politician and he used the slogan “plow Congress” to win the seat vacated by 11-term Democrat John Tanner. Fincher is a member of the 2010 GOP class that stormed Washington and fought Obama’s health care overhaul. The race for Fincher’s seat drew 13 Republican contenders, four Democrats, and five independents.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff, state Sen. Brian Kelsey and radiologist George Flinn are among the 13 Republicans running to fill the vacancy left by Fincher. The others are Ken Atkins, Hunter Baker, Dave Bault, Brad Greer, Raymond Honeycutt, George Howell, Tom Leatherwood, David Maldonado and David Wharton.

Four Democrats - James Coffman, Gregory Frye, Ricky Hobson and Erika Pearson - and five independents have also filed for the 8th District seat, which leans Republican. The independent candidates are Shelia Godwin, James Hart, Adrian Montague, Mark Rawles and Karen Free Spirit Talley-Lane.

In the 6th District extending from suburban Nashville to the Cumberland Plateau, three-term incumbent Black is being challenged by former state Rep. Joe Carr of Murfreesboro.

Carr, who lives outside the 6th District, ran a tea party-styled campaign against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in the 2014 Republican primary and - despite being little known - lost by only 9 percentage points. Carr later mounted a challenge for state Republican Party chairman but was defeated.

Carr had been running against scandal-plagued Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th District before abandoning that race to challenge Alexander.

DesJarlais, a physician from Jasper, has survived cancer and a series of revelations that included affairs with patients. He also urged a mistress to seek an abortion and once held a gun in his mouth for hours outside his ex-wife’s room. He now opposes abortion rights.

DesJarlais is now being challenged by Murfreesboro real estate attorney Grant Starrett for the GOP nomination in the district that runs southeast from the suburbs of Nashville to the outskirts of Chattanooga.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann won’t have to go through a third round of Republican primary challenges from Weston Wamp, the son of a congressman who mounted vigorous campaigns in 2012 and 2014 but is sitting out this year.

Other incumbents looking to keep their seats are Democrats Steve Cohen of Memphis and Jim Cooper of Nashville and Republicans Phil Roe and John Duncan in East Tennessee and Marsha Blackburn in the 7th District, which straddles the Tennessee River from Kentucky to the Mississippi state line.


Schelzig reported from Nashville.

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