Duncan won’t seek re-election to Congress

Staff Reports • Jul 31, 2017 at 11:17 PM

Lebanon native and Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. said Monday he won’t seek re-election for the East Tennessee seat he’s held since 1988.

Duncan, 70, said Monday he was ready to retire. He’s the longest serving Tennessean in Congress. 

“It has been a very special privilege to represent the people of the 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, I will not be running for re-election in 2018,” Duncan, R-Knoxville, said in a statement. “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.”

Duncan took over the 2nd District seat in a special election after the death of his father, John Duncan Sr., who also had previously served as Knoxville mayor.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said Monday morning he planned to make an announcement Saturday about his future plans.

Burchett, a Republican, has said he’ll seek either Duncan’s seat or that of Sen. Bob Corker next year.

Corker issued a statement Monday afternoon regarding Duncan’s retirement. 

“My friend Jimmy Duncan has represented the people of the 2nd District well for more than three decades in Congress,” said Corker. “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.”

Duncan was U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign chairman when he ran for re-election in 2014.

“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,” Alexander said. “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.”

Knoxville clinical psychologist Joshua Williams announced his plans earlier this year to seek the 2nd District seat as a Democrat.

Duncan, the brother of state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, of Knoxville, was born in Lebanon in 1947.

He graduated from Holston High School and the University of Tennessee, where he studied journalism. Duncan received his law degree from George Washington University.

Duncan served as a Knox County criminal court judge from 1981-88.

After his father’s death while in office, Duncan was elected to replace him.  Duncan has held the office ever since.

“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,” Duncan said in a statement. “My family has sacrificed much to allow me to serve, and I especially want to 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.”

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