It’s no wonder state Rep. Jimmy Matlock, a Farragut businessman, didn’t get much sleep over a 72-hour period two weeks ago.
That sleepless period began Monday night, July 31, a few hours after U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., a Republican, announced he will not seek re-election having represented the 2nd Congressional District [including all of Farragut and Concord] since 1988.
Matlock’s sleepless period lasted into Thursday morning, Aug. 3, when this Republican state representative from District 21 — serving parts of Loudon and Monroe counties for almost 11 years — finally decided to throw his hat in the ring to replace Duncan.
“I’ve hardly been to bed. I’ve been thinking about this, praying about this almost around the clock since 4 o’clock Monday afternoon [July 31],” Matlock said just a few hours after announcing Thursday, Aug. 3. “I have tried to be honest with myself, because this is a change in my whole life.”
As a Christian, “I just felt led to do it,” Matlock added.
He will battle at least one locally prominent GOP opponent for the Congressional seat: Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett also announced his bid to run two weeks ago. Democratic candidate Jeremy Williams, a clinical psychologist who has never run for elected office, announced his bid in June.
Saying Duncan has been an “humble” Congressional role model he hopes to emulate in several ways, Matlock added, “I had in my mind about four years ago that Congressman Duncan was going to retire at some point. … Doing it now took me by surprise. I thought it would be four years from now. But when he did I thought [years ago], ‘I would like to consider this.’
“I will have to step away, to a great extent, from my own business [Matlock Tire Service with four locations]. I will have to ask my wife [Dean Matlock] and children to put aside time off, vacations, things they would otherwise like to do collectively because I’ve got to give 100 percent to this campaign.”
However, about fulfilling his duties as state rep, Matlock said, “I was elected to serve a [full] term. … I promised people I would do that and I fully intend to keep that promise.
“Is it going to be tiring, is it going to be taxing, is it going to be challenging? Yes, yes and yes,” Matlock, 58, added. “… Yes, there’s only 24 hours in a day. So there’s no question I better drink a lot of water and eat a lot of Wheaties.
“But God gave me a double dose of energy and I’m pretty good at managing time.”
As for managing subordinates, “I’m really good at giving people around me the power to carry out decisions that I know they’re capable of making,” Matlock said. “And so, I’m not a micromanager, which means our office staff in Nashville is led by a young man who does an extraordinary job.”
In seeking advice about running, Matlock said, “I have talked, on the phone, to [people of] the highest economic standards in our community, I’ve talked to people who are out doing landscaping, I’ve talked to folks inside my church and I’ve sought counsel, frankly, from people sitting in the lobby of Matlock Tire.
“I met with my pastor — I actually met with four pastors who I have great respect for; I wanted them to pray that I do the correct and right thing,” Matlock added, “and who I have confidence in who would tell me if they felt like I was not” making the right decision to run.
However, “I’d be less than honest if I didn’t acknowledge that not everybody has advised me to run for the seat,” Matlock said. “They have told me things that would discourage me, but I felt like they were honest. I appreciate that.”
(farragutpress will ask Matlock, Burchett, Williams and other candidates with West Knox County/Farragut ties to outline what they want to accomplish in Washington while also asking them to articulate why each considers himself the best choice for the 2nd Congressional District. Their responses will be presented in upcoming issues)