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Burchett, Briggs, Duncan, Jones sail through primary

Tim Burchett looked almost presidential as he and wife, Allison, strolled into Summit Grand Ballroom among a steadily building roar of applause.

Hundreds of Republican faithfuls, realizing their man of the hour had arrived, bombarded the pair with handshakes, pats on the back and hugs.

Perhaps this District 7 state senator’s almost shocking vote total, winning Knox County Mayoral primary in a massive 85 percent landslide versus former Knox Sheriff Tim Hutchison, wasn’t such a shock.

A sea of blue Burchett signs and stickers filled this Crown Plaza hotel Republican headquarters Tuesday night, May 4, in downtown Knoxville long before any votes were announced.

Similar Hutchison promotions almost were non-existent.

Though two general election opponents await — Democratic nominee the Rev. Ezra Maize and Independent Bob Bedwell — Burchett said “it’s always a relief” to win a Knox GOP primary. “I’m just overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed [winning] by one vote. ... People have been wonderful to me.”

However, Burchett revealed the true family backbone.

“Let me tell you something, if my momma was born in this generation she’d be the next president of the United States,” Burchett said of his mother, Joyce Burchett, with whom he exchanged a lengthy kiss and hug prior to Burchett’s five-minute address to the gathering.

“My momma is an incredible lady.”

About his GOP opponent, Burchett said, “Tim Hutchison’s my friend and I would hope his people, his supporters, would be for me. I’m going to reach out to everybody. I do not hold grudges. It’s not in my make-up.”

Dr. Richard Briggs, District 5 County Commissioner running unopposed in the primary with no Democratic general election opposition, labeled Tuesday’s primary results as “really sort of the redemption of Knox County politics, and particularly the Knox County Republican Party.”

A nationally renowned heart surgeon having serving more than 30 years in the U.S. Army, Briggs, new to politics prior to 2008, spoke about one tough vote concerning Farragut area development where it was politics versus conscience.

“I think the neighborhood commercial development they’re doing at Choto Road and Northshore [Drive] was the hardest decision that I had to make,” Briggs said of his vote “to proceed with that development with many restrictions. ... because I think it was the right thing to do” despite constituent opposition possibly reaching more than 50 percent.

“Sometimes the officeholders may vote just because they’re trying to satisfy their constituents’ wishes without the constituents always knowing the whole story,” he added. “Politics does play into some of the decisions we have to make, and that’s what’s frustrating.

“When there’s a substantial number of constituents who are opposed to you on an issue, sometimes you have to have the courage to go ahead and go against them. But you can’t ignore them, either; you are their representative.”

Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones essentially won his first ever full-term sheriff’s election Tuesday: another GOP incumbent with no Democratic general election opposition. Jones collected roughly 77 percent of the primary vote versus Steve Hart.

“I’m very happy, I think it was a mandate by the public,” Jones said. “... I’m so humbled by the vote.

”I think at this time in Knox County we are the superior party, and this does speak to that.”

John Duncan III won his first-ever elective office round Tuesday, representing the third generation of one of Knox County’s most successful political families.

Facing neither GOP primary opposition nor a Democratic foe in the general election, Duncan should waltz in as new County Trustee come August.

“Dad’s always told me I’ll have a lot more comfortable life, and probably more enjoyable life, if I’m in the business world,” said Duncan, a banker, about his father, longtime U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. (R-District 2).

“But he understands where I’m coming from. ... He’s been completely supportive, 100 percent.”

Despite the outcome being apparent for several weeks, Duncan said celebrating his first-ever political victory was “definitely an exciting feeling, pretty overwhelming, thinking about the thousands of people who have gone to the polls today and over the last couple of weeks to cast their vote.”


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