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HomeGrown: Congressman John Duncan Jr.

9:44 PM, Mar 27, 2012   |    comments
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Congressman John Duncan Jr. has spent most of his career commuting between Knoxville and our nation's capital, serving East Tennessee's 2nd District.

"I try to almost never miss a vote, but I also try to catch the first plane out after the last vote."

Home or away, the Congressman keeps a tight schedule.

"Schools, churches, civic clubs, ribbon cuttings, luncheons, dinners. I tell people I've got about 750,000 bosses and they keep us really busy."

Long before he could even dream of roll call or legislative agendas, Duncan was a youngster growing up in Knoxville...

"I grew up in "Andy" and "Mayberry" days."

Much of his childhood centered around sports.

"I sold cokes and popcorn at the UT basketball games. I sold programs at the UT football programs. I worked as a bat boy for the Knoxville Smokies for 5 1/2 seasons."

Duncan took his first trip to Washington, D.C. in the sixth grade with safety patrol.

"The thought never crossed my mind that I would ever be back there as far as being in Congress or anything like that."

But thanks to his father, the late Congressman John Duncan Sr., he hit the campaign trail pretty early.

"I worshiped my dad. I guess eventually the politics got into my blood as it does."

Duncan worked for Richard Nixon's presidential campaign two summers in college.

"This is a picture of me greeting Tricia Nixon at the Knoxville airport."

However, he was also interested in covering politics.

"Well, I majored in journalism at UTK and I thought seriously about pursuing that."

Duncan decided to attend George Washington University Law school, working as a high school teacher by day and a law student by night.

"I actually made the decision to give up law school and teach full time, but I very quickly found out that that disappointed my dad so badly that I quickly reversed that decision."

He moved back home to Knoxville to practice law.

"I handled everything from dog bite cases to murders and represented pimps, prostitutes, ministers and churches."

Then, he was appointed to the bench, serving 7 1/2 years as State Trial Judge.

"I tried the attempted murder of James Earl Ray. My court was the only court he testified in. I had a lot of fascinating cases."

And, in 1988, he was elected to Congress, taking over his father's seat.

"He actually passed away while I was running for Congress."

2012 marks his 24th year in Congress. And, he's not afraid to go against the grain.

"The one time I felt pretty sure that I was ending my political career was when I voted against the war in Iraq. I thought it was the wrong thing to do. The most unpopular vote I ever cast slowly became one of the most popular I ever cast."

Regardless, Linda, his wife of 34 years has been by his side.

"She's my strongest supporter and my biggest critic."

They have four children and five grandchildren.

"The grandkids are the best things that's ever happened to me."

They are first priority, but he does find time to play golf. and, the Congressman's been known to sing from time to time.

"I sang with the Congressional Singers. We sang on the Grand Ole Opry."

Still today, he's teased about his East Tennessee accent. But the Congressman is proud of his roots and his service.
And, he's not ready to exit from the polls just yet.

"I'm still as enthusiastic as ever about my job."

Congressman John Duncan Jr,

"I'm East Tennessee through and through. There's no question about that!"

Born in Lebanon. HomeGrown in Tennessee.

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