If was in the circus, there is little doubt as to what he'd excel at. He can juggle with the best of those who get paid to do it for a living. Duff is a realtor, legislator, public servant, and family man. He can sell a house in the morning, campaign in the afternoon, and be home in time to help his children with their homework and put them to bed at night. It's all in a day's work for the state senator.
"I love my job and being part of the community," said Duff, who represents and Darien. "You have to get out there and let people see what you're doing. I don't like sitting behind a desk and I love helping people. This is definitely my passion."
Duff, who was born and raised in Norwalk, has been a realtor for 16 years and a politician for 10. But long before he sold his first house, Duff knew that representing others was his calling.
"When I was seven years old, I wrote a letter to then Mayor Bill Collins about litter over at ," he said. "That must've agitated me enough where I felt I had to do something. He wrote me back and I still have that letter framed in my office. That's where it all started."
Duff's interest in politics percolated at and then got piping hot at Lynchburg (Va.) College where he majored in political science. In 2010, Duff was asked to be the guest speaker at his alma mater's commencement and he delivered a message to the graduating class that was formed during his journey through real estate and politics.
"I told them to find your niche and don't be afraid to take chances," he said. "You can't let people talk you out of what you believe in."
As state senator, there are always people in his ear trying to influence his opinion and vote, but Duff knows he has to do the right thing even if it may not be popular.
"You can't worry about everyone loving you," Duff said. "You have to do what is right for the people and what you believe in. Years ago, I voted for the legislation to ban smoking in restaurants and a lot of people said it was going to kill the industry and jobs. But I believed in it."
A politician opens himself up to criticism as soon as he or she enters office, it's just goes with the territory. Duff is human and he hears and reads both the good and the bad.
"What matters to me most is my family and taking care of them," he said. "The rest of the stuff will work out. When I'm home, I'm home. My kids don't refer to me as Senator Duff, my wife doesn't refer to me as Senator Duff. I have a job and sometimes that job requires me to be in the paper. I'm here to help make people's lives better. But my job is no better or less important than anyone else's."
Duff's career has already been very successful and it appears it's going to be a long one, as well. But as he looks ahead, he knows he has a responsibility to those coming up behind him with the same aspirations he once had.
"I want to pay it forward and help young people like Mayor Collins and Mayor O'Connor helped me," said Duff. "I'd like to inspire some kids to think about politics or public service or government. That's what legacy is all about."