Congressman Jimmy Duncan meets with Knoxville Tea Party

Congressman Jimmy Duncan meets with Knoxville Tea Party

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"I've always thought that if the bill's passed and they're going to spend the money, I'd rather some of it come here," Congressman Duncan said. "I've always thought that if the bill's passed and they're going to spend the money, I'd rather some of it come here," Congressman Duncan said.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Congressman Jimmy Duncan had his first experience with the Tea Party Tuesday night, after deciding not to join its caucus in Washington over the summer.

Local tea partiers gathered at Fountain City Park to find out just how much they have in common with Duncan.

"Are you ready and willing to fight to get the healthcare reform bill and the financial regulatory reform bill repealed and revoked?" asked John A. Smaldone from the audience.

"Yes, both of them," Duncan replied. 

There was plenty of applause, but Duncan knows not all members of the party support him. "There are some in the Tea Party who say they're going to vote against all incumbents, but then on the other hand their main issues have been fiscal conservatism and doing something about our national debt and that's been the main thing I've emphasized in my time in the Congress."

Still, Duncan was questioned about earmarks.

"Anywhere else in the country that would be called pork barrel spending. Of course, it's not here. For us, it's necessary spending," said Doug Cassidy. 

"I've always thought that if the bill's passed and they're going to spend the money, I'd rather some of it come here," Duncan said.

As for not joining the caucus, "I'm in too many caucuses probably already and besides that, I thought with my voting record I didn't need to prove that my views were consistent with the Tea Party and besides I feel some loyalty to the Republican Party," Duncan said.

Not all tea parties hold that against him. "I think it's a good move," Knoxville Tea Party Chair Jonathon Baloga said. "I think that some of the people that are in the tea party caucus already are entrenched politicians."

Congressman Duncan says he's spoken to groups all over East Tennessee, from liberal to conservative.

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