Former State Representative Jimmy Matlock received an enthusiastic endorsement Tuesday from the man he is seeking to replace in the House of Representatives.
In a statement released by the Matlock campaign, the 15-term retiring Representative Jimmy Duncan (R-TN-02) said:
Jimmy Matlock is one of the finest men I have ever known, and he is running for Congress for all the right reasons.
Jimmy Matlock is running because he has a real heart for service and because he wants to help as many people as he can by doing the right things for this nation, this state, and this district.
He has served in our part-time state legislature with great honor and distinction, and he is a man who knows the important national and international issues we face.
Jimmy Matlock will make a great Congressman, and I am proud to endorse him to replace me.
“Congressman Duncan and his family are the standard by which public service is measured,” Matlock said of his longtime friend’s endorsement. “He has been an excellent representative, and I am sad to see him go. I am truly humbled and honored to have earned his support in this race.”
The field is a crowded one, with no less than half-dozen candidates running in addition to Matlock, all of whom vying for the Republican nomination. Among them are: Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Jason Emert, Vito Sagliano, Ashley Nickloes, Marc Whitmire and Hank Hamblin.
Democrats Joshua Williams and Renee Hoyos are also running for their Party’s nomination; along with Libertarian William Samples.
Matlock’s campaign notes that in January, Matlock received the first major endorsement in the race for United States Congress from one of the nation’s top conservative family values and pro-life group, Family Research Council Action PAC. More recently, the pro-life, Christian family values group Campaign for Working Families (CWF) endorsed the Lenoir City businessman.
Political watchers have regarded Rep. Duncan’s endorsement of Matlock as generally unsurprising. As The Tennessee Star reported in August 2017:
Duncan went on to say, “Well, I really like Jimmy Matlock,” referring to State Representative Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City), who beat Burchett to the punch by announcing his organization of a campaign to run for the 2nd District Congressional seat two days before Burchett. Matlock referred to Congressman Duncan as “my dear friend” in his official campaign statement.
Duncan stopped short of an endorsement for Matlock, saying, “I’m not endorsing anybody right at the moment,” taking a “wait and see” position.
While Duncan added, “Endorsements don’t mean a whole lot,” in a seat that has been held by “Jimmy” or his father, John Duncan Sr., since 1964, Duncan, despite some of the recent negative news reports, may be downplaying the influence his family name may have for whomever he decides to back.
Duncan’s endorsement didn’t come as a surprise to those who have followed the race closely. When he announced his intentions to run for the seat in August, Matlock praised Duncan’s constituent services and said the two have a “wonderful relationship of respect” for each other.
Indeed, with the advent of alternative news sources and online, 24-hour access to news and information, endorsements have lost the impact they once held.
KnoxNews reached out to former Knoxville mayor and Shopper News columnist Victor Ashe, who has been a friend of Duncan’s for 54 years. He said the endorsement is no surprise, though he isn’t sure it particularly helps Matlock’s campaign.
“History strongly suggests that attempts to designate your successor fail,” Ashe told KnoxNews Tuesday. “Voters are not impressed with endorsements, they make up their own minds. The most recent example is Glenn Jacobs, who had no (local) endorsements.”
Jacobs won the GOP nomination for Knox County Mayor by a scant 24 votes over fellow Republican Knox County Commissioner Brad Anders.
Perhaps as unsurprising as Mr. Duncan’s endorsement of Matlock was the candidates’ reactions.
“As the congressman himself has said, ‘endorsements don’t mean a whole lot,’” [outgoing Knox County Mayor Tim] Burchett said in an emailed statement. “No one gets anointed. Personally, I don’t rely on endorsements; I always rely on the voters to make their own decisions.”
“The choice for Congress is clear: two political insiders and career politicians in Jimmy Matlock and Tim Burchett, or a businessman and conservative outsider in Jason Emert,” Emert campaign spokesman, Chris Olmstead, said in an emailed statement.
“Although I respect Congressman Duncan, I don’t think voters care much about one politician endorsing another and I’m running because we need something new,” she said in an emailed statement. “My experience as an Air Force pilot and my eight deployments have taught me that the on issues like national security, illegal immigration, and runaway federal spending, career politicians focus too much on getting elected and not on the interests of the American people.”
The last day to register to vote in this primary election is Tuesday, July 3rd. Early voting begins Friday, July 13th through Saturday, July 28th. Primary election day is August 2nd.