Rep. Jimmy Duncan election challenger is Stuart Starr

Stuart Starr's Democratic campaign for Congress against longtime incumbent Rep. Jimmy Duncan is not the conventional grassroots effort.

And his campaign slogan of "we're all doomed, remain hopeful," isn't all that traditional, either.

As someone who is campaigning against Duncan, one of the longest-serving members in the U.S. House, Starr compares his effort to when the University of Tennessee hosts lower-division opponents at a football game. That is, a win could happen but isn't probable.

"There's always a little bit of hope that, you buy a lottery ticket, maybe this time I will win," Starr said. "The odds are stacked against you, but there'a a chance."

Starr said he's an alternative to the Duncan family, one that holds plenty of political might in East Tennessee and has for years.

"I grew up in a political family," Duncan said. "My dad ran for mayor when I was in the sixth grade. This really has been my whole life, but I also recognize that over 90 percent of Republicans favor term limits."

The possibility that Duncan may be running his last race has popped up in local political circles. He's held office since 1988 and, at 69 years old, he agrees that he could be looking at leaving elected office in coming years. But when that could happen is uncertain.

"Iím getting near the end, though I don't know exactly what that means," Duncan said.

Starr's effort against Duncan's long-held office is to provide an alternative, he said. He said he's a past chairman of the Loudon County Democratic Party. He's tired of seeing low voter turnout for races, he said, which is in part due to redrawn district lines through the years.

"The system of gerrymandering has made structural fiefdoms," Starr said, "where only the Republican Party or the Democrats can exist."

His campaign is being run primarily through online platforms, he said, with cooperation from the state Democratic Party.

"So we can see what that that would be like," he said, "most of this campaign is online, websites, Facebook."

His major issues are opioid abuse, and he wants to see marijuana legislation happen.

"Marijuana isn't a gateway drug," he said, "it's an anti-gateway. If you have marijuana, then you don't do all the other stuff."

He also would like to see more spending on transportation infrastructure.

Duncan is running on his long career in office, and some usual Republican platforms.

He also wants to work on providing affordable health care to people, and keeping down the cost of college tuition.

"I want to use a carrot-and-stick approach and give preference on the federal grants to colleges and universities that hold their tuition or lower their tuition," Duncan said.

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10/24/16