Mayor to seek Congress, maybe vs. Sen. Corker
Something’s got to give by the end of Republican Primaries in 2018, as one of three longtime East Tennessee Republican politicians apparently will be out of politics in early 2019: U.S. Sen. Bob Corker [R-Tenn.], U.S. Rep John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. [R-2nd District including Farragut and Concord] or current Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.
“I’ll either be running for the U.S. Senate or the United States Congress,” Burchett, who is term-limited as Knox mayor, said of his plans — as told Friday morning, July 21 — to run against either Duncan or Corker.
“I tell people it’s the people’s seat,” he said. “I’ve been praying about it and I’m going to draw a conclusion here very soon.”
Though Duncan, who has been the Second Congressional District Congressman since first elected in 1988, and his father, John Duncan Sr., who held it from 1966 through 1988, have had a family stronghold on the district for more than 50 years, Burchett said that’s not a factor.
“I’ve stated I’m not afraid of running against anybody,” he said. “In the primary it would be a very vigorous campaign either way you go. I’ve known Bob for 30 years and I guess I’ve know Congressman Duncan at least that long.
“We’ve had over 50 years of Duncans in that Congressional seat. It’s just a statement of fact,” Burchett added. “I’ve agreed with the Congressman and I’ve disagreed. The same with Corker.”
About any specific policy differences Burchett might have with either Duncan or Corker, he said, “There probably are, but I don’t care to discuss them right now.
“I love public service. I’m 52 years old and I think I’ve been fairly successful,” Burchett added. “I’ve had great people around me to help me along the way.
“I would hope I could be an asset in either one of those positions. It’s a serious task.”
Though not directly critical of any votes or platforms from either Duncan or Corker, Burchett said, “I think everybody’s frustrated with Congress right now, the United States Senate and the [House of Representatives].
“The sense that nothing’s getting done, whether it be health care or other issues, or immigration and all these other things. … They’re tired of the bickering back and forth, the partisanship,” he added. “It may get you re-elected, and it’s great for headlines, but the reality is at some point you’ve got to govern. And right now we’re not seeing a lot of that coming from Washington [D.C.].”
Burchett recalled his “16 years in the state legislature,” 12 as District 7 state senator [including Farragut and Concord], prior to first being elected Knox mayor in 2010.
“The vast majority of that time was when the Democrats were in control, and of course I’m a Republican, so I’ve had experience working across the aisle,” he said. “Compromising, getting things done. I think that’s something sorely missing right now.
“The truth is the Republicans have the majority in everything: the White House, the House and the [Senate],” Burchett added. “But they seem to keep stumbling because nobody wants to sit down and talk about the issues and talk with the people about how [a given issue] would effect them.
“They’re quick to meet with lobbyists or some fat cat. The beauty of our system is that fat cat has the same vote as anybody else out here” and no more. “That’s why I’ve been successful, I realized that early on. I think that kind of cooperation is what’s missing.”