Friends were unknowingly Congressional opponents

Gross, Town resident, gladly drops out to endorse Matlock to replace Duncan

It may seen like customer loyalty to the extreme, but Farragut resident Kenneth Gross enthusiastically spelled out his most important reason for terminating his campaign for the 2nd District U.S. Congressional seat.

While saying business travel “was really extensive,” eating up precious campaign time otherwise spent meeting citizens and fundraising, this local Republican had a much more personal reason to end his campaign.

A close friend of state Rep. Jimmy Matlock [R-District 21], a Farragut businessman who also announced his run for the soon-to-be-vacant 2nd District seat in early August, “I didn’t realize, and Jimmy didn’t realize, that we were both announcing [for Congress],” Gross said during a brief ceremony announcing his decision at Matlock Tire Service & Auto Repair in Farragut Wednesday morning, Nov. 8.

Both men announced their candidacies within a week after Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., 2nd District representative since 1988, announced July 30 his decision not to seek re-election.

About a week after Duncan’s announcement, “Jimmy [Matlock] called me one morning and he said he’d like to have my support,” Gross said. “I said, ‘Well Jimmy, I’ve announced too.’

“If I would have known that I wouldn’t have filed and started my campaign.”

Moreover, Gross said he’s been “a good customer” at Matlock’s Farragut store location, one of four in the Knox metro area owned by the state representative.

Vice president of Safety & Risk Management for AMERESCO, Gross said he remained a candidate for a few weeks before ending his bid “around Oct. 15.”

Saying he’s gotten to know Matlock well, both personally and with his record of service in Nashville, over a span of “about 12 years,” Gross added, “I’ve got a great amount of respect and admiration for Jimmy Matlock.

“I want that person that has integrity, that has that statesman’s mentality to go up there [Washington, D.C.] and do what’s right for us — not what polls tell you or not what the pundits tell you, but vote the conscience of this district.

“And I think Jimmy Matlock is the only candidate in this race that will do that.”

“I am humbled by Ken’s friendship as a longtime customer and his support in this race for Congress,” said Matlock, 58, who has served District 21 [parts of Loudon and Monroe counties] in Nashville since January 2007.

“He, like me and so many others, put his neck out there as a candidate, and to have him get behind my candidacy is a true honor,” Matlock added.