Duncan won’t back Burchett as successor in Congress… maybe Matlock

Soon-to-retire U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. tells the Nashville Post that he’s definitely not going to endorse Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett as his successor, though leaving the door open to support for state Rep. Jimmy Matlock’s run for the 2nd District Congressional seat.

And Duncan says he will continue payments from his campaign account to his son for now – though reducing the amount.

“No, not that much,” Rep. Duncan said when asked if he planned to keep paying John Duncan III the monthly $7,000 he has been getting since 2013. “But I’m —he’s still doing all kinds of things for me, and I’m paying him a whole lot less than these professional campaign people in Washington, I can tell you that. So they’ve saved me a lot of money.”

Since 2013, Rep. Duncan has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to family members and in-laws, at rates questioned by experienced political staffers, and despite not facing a primary opponent in 2016 or a serious Democratic opponent since 1988.

…Had Rep. Duncan decided to run for 16th term next year, the payments would have likely been used in advertising against him by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, who formally announced his run for the Second Congressional District on Saturday. Since the Post’s reporting on the finances ran last month, Rep. Duncan’s wife Lynn has reportedly been taking every chance she can get to bash Burchett, including telling multiple people at last week’s Tennessee Republican Party Statesmen’s Dinner that Burchett had physically threatened her at a Republican event in Loudon County the week before. (Burchett’s staff denies anything like that happened.)

In any case, Rep. Duncan has made it clear that Burchett will not get his support as his replacement.

“No, I’m not for Tim Burchett. I’ll be supporting somebody else,” Rep. Duncan said. “There’ll be a lot of good people running, I think.”

… Rep. Duncan would not say if he will formally endorse state Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City), who announced last week he’ll be running for the seat with a thinly veiled attack on Burchett.

…“Well, I really like Jimmy Matlock. I’m not endorsing anybody right at the moment. I’ll wait and see what they — you know, I haven’t made up my mind what I’m gonna do just yet. Endorsements don’t mean a whole lot,” Rep. Duncan said.

UPDATE/NOTE: After this was posted, Don Walker, a spokesman for Duncan, sent this comment via email: “Lynn Duncan never told anyone that Tim Burchett had physically threatened her.  She was not even at the Republican Loudon County Event.  She was 90 miles away in Grainger County.”

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