Rep. John Duncan (R)
Elected: 1988, 11th full term.
Born: July 21, 1947, Lebanon .
Education: U. of TN, B.S. 1969, George Washington U., J.D. 1973.
Family: Married (Lynn); 4 children.
Military career: Army Natl. Guard & Army Reserves, 1970–87.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1973–81; Knox Cnty. judge, 1981–88.
The congressman from the 2d District is John (Jimmy) Duncan, a Republican first elected in 1988. His father, who was the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, represented the 2nd District from 1964 until his death in May 1988. Jimmy Duncan got a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Tennessee and a law degree from George Washington University. He practiced law and was a trial judge in the 1980s. When his father died, he won the seat despite a spirited challenge from Democrat Dudley Taylor, a scion of another prominent East Tennessee political family. Taylor attacked Duncan for his ties to scandal-tarred banker and Democratic politician Jake Butcher. But Duncan won with 57% in November. He has not been seriously challenged since then.
|John Duncan (R)||227,120||(78%)||($511,959)|
|Bob Scott (D)||63,639||(22%)|
|John Duncan (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (78%), 2004 (79%), 2002 (79%), 2000 (89%), 1998 (89%), 1996 (71%), 1994 (90%), 1992 (72%), 1990 (81%), 1988 (57%), 1988 (56%)
Duncan has been a frequent maverick on economic and foreign policy issues. He opposed normal trade relations with China and the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind education law that imposed mandatory testing on schools. In October 2002, he was one of six Republicans—and the only Tennessean—who voted against the use of force in Iraq. He argued that there was not sufficient proof that Iraqi Leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. A year later, he opposed the $87 billion spending bill for the war. “There is just no enthusiasm for this war,” he said in August 2005. “It certainly is not going to help Republican candidates.” In February 2007, he was one of 17 who voted to express disapproval of President Bush’s troop “surge” strategy, and in May of that year, he was one of two House Republicans to vote against funding for Iraq military operations.
But his independence had its price. He was a candidate for the chairmanship of the Resources Committee in 2003, but Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert passed over him and five other senior Republicans to give the post to the more loyal Richard Pombo of California. Perhaps mindful of that setback, Duncan voted for Hastert’s Medicare prescription drug bill in 2003. Then in 2006, he made a big push for the top Republican position on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. But he lost to John Mica of Florida, who was more junior but, once again, more of a party regular. In 2009, Duncan was named the ranking Republican on the committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. In response to skyrocketing gas prices in summer 2008, Duncan became a supporter of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and of offshore drilling.
Duncan hasn’t been shy about seeking funding for local projects, from resurfacing the Foothills Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to a rail and trolley system for downtown Knoxville. Another of his legislative interests has been a bill to require the disclosure of contributions to presidential libraries, which the House passed in early 2009 by 388-31.
In Knoxville, Duncan’s annual barbecue dinner draws as many as 5,000 people and reinforces his local popularity. Although he shows no signs of retiring, when Duncan does decide to leave Congress, his son, John Duncan III, is said to be interested in the seat.