Rep. Jeff Duncan (R.SC3) has filed for re-election to Congress. Duncan is seeking his third term in the House and has no opposition. He was a part of the nation-wide Tea Party Revolt in 2010 and was elected when he came from behind in a four-man contest to win the primary and, given the Third’s Republican strength, take the general election.
In “Do Not Ask What Good We Do,” Robert Draper, writer for The New Yorker Magazine and National Geographic and New York Times bestselling author, wrote about that first year for the group of representatives swept into office by disaffected voters. In doing his research on Capitol Hill, Draper was drawn to the quiet but resolute Duncan, so much so, “Do Not Ask” is as much a chronicle of the South Carolina congressman as it is the institution itself.
Jeff Duncan was a “Tea Party freshman.” That’s what he called himself. The origins of the “TEA” (Taxed Enough Already) party movement were revenue-centric, but before long the rallying cries ranged from a deep distrust of the sitting president to a (seemingly corresponding) outrage over the federal government’s spending habits and overall godlessness – the latter two of which were Jeff Duncan’s animating principles. There were eighty-seven freshmen in all, and some had benefited from the Tea Party wave. while others had won in spite of it, and others still had embraced the movement but would be edging away from it as soon as no one was looking. Not Duncan. As a Christian, Husband, Father and Small Business Owner, I know what I believe in.
Duncan was one of the four freshmen to win seats from South Carolina. The Four Horsemen, he had helpfully mentioned to a couple of local reporters… The other three Horsemen had stories that wrote themselves. Tim Scott from Charleston was one of only two blacks in the entire House Republican conference. Trey Gowdy a lawyer with not a day’s worth of political experience who had mustered enough Tea Party support to demolish not-conservative-enough incumbent Bob Inglis* in the Republican primary. As for Mick Mulvaney, in winning he had delivered to the GOP the prized scalp of John Sparatt, a fourteen-term Democrat and chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Jeff Duncan saw himself as “the draft horse. The one who’s gonna plod along and be steady. I’m very convicted in what I believe. That’s how I want to be seen. I don’t want them to look up at the board to see how I voted.”
Draper recalled a 2011 vote on a continuing resolution that, in Duncan’s mind and that of others afflicted with fiscal clarity, did not cut nearly as much from the budget as was necessary. Duncan resisted pressure from the GOP leadership and voted against the bill.
John Boehner happened to be on the House floor and walking down the aisle when he bumped into one of the Republican defectors, Jeff Duncan.
“Mr. Speaker,” the freshman said in greeting, and offered his hand.
Boehner accepted the handshake. Then he pulled Duncan toward him and looked him in the eye.
“You hard head,” the Speaker said.
Duncan decided to take it as a compliment.
Whether it’s energy policy, government oversight, Homeland Security, foreign affairs or such issues as cyber-security and Benghazi (in which the “plodder” took on “the smartest woman in America”), Duncan has proven himself as a resolute and tenacious steward of the public conscience and defender of the Constitution.
This is no campaign post (he’s running unopposed), endorsement (because I’m not important enough for my support to be called an endorsement) or even something written out of guilt for collecting so many dinners from wagers with Jeff over Carolina-Clemson football games (he’s convicted).
More than anything, this is a thank you note. The people of the Third District, my boyhood home, are blessed to have Jeff Duncan represent them in Washington, but the people of South Carolina, and I’ll even say, the nation, should be grateful to those voters for giving us Jeff Duncan.
*Something Sen. Lindsey Graham should remember.