Congressman John J. “Jimmy” Duncan has announced he will not be a candidate for reelection next year. The people of Tennessee’s Second Congressional District owe Jimmy Duncan a debt of gratitude for a job well done. Like his father before him, Duncan was never a publicity-seeker, which is saying something in this day and age. Jimmy Duncan was content to focus upon issues of importance to the people of the Second District and constituent service. Unfortunately, constituent service is a lost art for all too many of our office holders, yet it remains one of the most important, if not the most important aspects of holding public office. A few of our local officials still work hard at constituent service, but Congressman John J. Duncan, Sr. refined it to a specialty, rendering needed assistance to tens of thousands of Tennesseans over the years. Jimmy Duncan kept up that tradition throughout his nearly thirty years in Congress.
Jimmy Duncan also demonstrated a mind of his own while a Member of Congress; only six Republicans in Congress refused to go along with the resolution authorizing the United States to go to war with Iraq. At the time, many inside his own party were highly critical of Congressman Duncan, yet he proved to be right. Duncan has also been consistently fiscally conservative while in Congress and Mayor Tim Burchett is right in saying that if every congressman had voted like Jimmy Duncan, this country would no longer be in debt.
Too many politicians today crave the spotlight, something Jimmy Duncan avoided, preferring instead to move about his district quietly. Few congressmen have been as accessible as Jimmy Duncan throughout his tenure in Congress. Jimmy Duncan was constantly shuttling back and forth between Washington and the Second District. Duncan’s comment that he would like to spend less time in airports and on airplanes is understandable in light of the weekly grueling pace he set to keep in touch with his people.
Most of all, Jimmy Duncan never took the people he represented for granted. Duncan has worked very hard to not only keep in touch with the people who sent him to Congress, but to represent their views in the nation’s Capitol. Through it all, Jimmy Duncan remained humble, hard working, and always willing to help anyone who needed it. As far as legacies go, that is a mighty high standard.