Congressman Jimmy Duncan will not seek reelection

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – U.S. Congressman Jimmy Duncan’s Knoxville office confirmed Monday he would not seek another term in 2018.

Duncan, 70, was first elected to Congress in 1988 in a special election to fill the seat vacated by his father John Duncan, Sr. when he died in office. Duncan has been reelected every two years since to serve Tennessee’s second district, which encompasses Knox and several surrounding counties in East Tennessee.

“Well, what it means is a torch will be passed to a new generation. Younger people who are in their forties and fifties will be holding offices that people, 65 and 70, have retired from them.” said Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor.

“If people didn’t like the Duncans in the second district, it wouldn’t have lasted this long. However, there is a shelf life to everything in politics. Some people, who undoubtedly who really care for and support Jimmy Duncan, may have been coming to the conclusion that, ‘Well, maybe 30 years is enough.'” said George Korda, WATE 6 On Your Side Political analyst.

Duncan was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, and graduated from Holston High School in Knoxville. He attended the University of Tennessee and the National Law Center at George Washington University. He then served in the Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve before being named a state trial judge.

Duncan came under fire earlier this year for his refusal to hold town halls, saying at one point they “would very quickly turn into shouting opportunities for extremists, kooks and radicals.” Duncan said he preferred individual meetings and that he would meet with any constituent one-on-one.

Related: Duncan says he’s meeting with constituents, refuses to hold town hall

Duncan was also scrutinized this year for paying thousands to family members over the years for campaign work.

“In politics, Jimmy Duncan’s name will carry an enormous weight in this election. If someone gets into with the Duncan name, or someone that the Duncans are clearly seen to be supporting, if it’s not Tim Burchett that’s going to be a factor and it’s going to be a significant factor.” said Korda.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett has been speculated to be seeking Duncan’s seat. He plans an announcement Saturday where he will say which political office he will seek when his term as mayor runs out.

“By announcing in this way, before Tim Burchett’s announcement. Congressman Duncan has done it on his terms. It is clearly something he’s been thinking about for a long time. And if he had waited until after Burchett’s announcement, and Burchett indeed announces as everyone suspects he’s going to run for second district Congress, it would then appear that Duncan was acting in reaction to Burchett.” said Korda.

Statement from Duncan

It has been a very special privilege to represent the people of the Second District in the US House of Representatives. However, I will not be running for re-election in 2018.

Since then, in part, because people knew or assumed that I might be thinking about retiring, I have never had so many people urging me to run again. Also, because of the recent attacks against me from the far left, my support among the conservative Republican base has never been more enthusiastic. I am grateful for their kind expressions of support, however, now is the time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.

I have decided I wanted to spend less time in airports, airplanes, and traveling around the district and more time with my family, especially my nine grandchildren, who all live in Knoxville. I love my job but I love my family more.

During my time in Congress, I’ve worked as hard as I can to fight for what I believe in – fiscal conservatism, smaller government, and a more humble foreign policy that puts America first. The most rewarding part of the job though has been being able to help many thousands of people on a personal level.

I am very grateful to the people of East Tennessee for giving me the privilege to serve for what will be slightly over 30 years in Congress at the end of this term. My family has sacrificed much to allow me to serve, and I especially thank my wife, Lynn, and my four children, all of whom have greatly helped me during my time in Congress. I also want to thank my excellent staff, especially Bob Griffitts and Jenny Stansberry, both of whom have been with me the entire time I have been in this position.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett also released a statement:

I am grateful for Congressman Duncan’s friendship, and I appreciate the years of service he and his family have dedicated to our community. He has been a consistent, conservative voice for the 2nd District, and he’s represented us well. Few families have made a bigger impact in East Tennessee than the Duncan family, and I have no doubt they will continue to make a difference.

Duncan’s sister, Tennessee State Senator Becky Duncan Massey, issued this statement:

I’m really proud of my brother for the service and sacrifice he’s given to the people of the second district of Tennessee. He’s a true public servant.

Sen. Bob Corker released a statement as well:

My friend Jimmy Duncan has represented the people of the 2nd District well for more than three decades in Congress. I appreciate his no-nonsense, principled approach to public service and will sincerely miss his leadership and voice as a member of our delegation. I wish him, his wife, Lynn, and their family all the best as they prepare to enter this next chapter of their lives.

Gov. Bill Haslam had this statement:

I want to thank Jimmy Duncan for his outstanding service to the citizens of the 2nd Congressional District. Crissy and I are grateful for our friendship with Jimmy and Lynn and we look forward to continuing to work together for the next year and half. As governor, and as a constituent of his district, I am very grateful for his service to our state and our country.

Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office issued a statement:

I am proud that Jimmy Duncan has served Tennessee’s 2nd district and been my congressman for nearly three decades – and has been recognized as the most conservative member of the House for about that long. No one has done a better job of staying in touch with his constituents than Jimmy has. He has dedicated his life to service – both in Congress and as a member of the Army National Guard – and Honey and I thank Jimmy and Lynn and their family for their dedication to our state.

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