The abrupt withdrawal of Knox County Commissioner R. Larry Smith from a school board race has sparked speculation about his political future. If he lost a school board race after his terms on County Commission, it would damage his reputation should he wish to seek another office.
Smith angered the Duncan family when he got involved in the investigation of trustee John Duncan III. Smith went to County Law Director Joe Jarrett and told him he had a tip that bonuses were being paid illegally. Jarrett turned the information over to the district attorney and Duncan later resigned from office.
Smith told WATE that Congressman Jimmy Duncan warned him to “stay away from my son,” which Duncan and two witnesses at the meeting say never happened.
The Duncan organization turned out on election day to help Bud Armstrong defeat Jarrett for the post of law director. Armstrong was behind in early voting but got a big vote on election day to win the post.
Smith’s opponent in the school board race, Patti Bounds, has Bill Vaughn as her campaign manager. Vaughn has been a fixture in Duncan campaigns for decades.
The question now for Smith is whether he has a future in Knox County politics. Smith has also mentioned running for Congress, but that post is currently occupied by Jimmy Duncan.