Former Johnson City mayor to run for Congress

Robert Houk • Updated Mar 3, 2020 at 8:56 AM

Former Johnson City Mayor Steve Darden will be a Republican candidate for Tennessee’s 1st District seat in Congress.

“I am a conservative Republican seeking the nomination to become our next congressman,” Darden said in a campaign statement released Monday. “I want to serve in Congress for a very simple reason: To make life better for the people of the 1st District, which I consider to be the best place to live, work, worship and raise a family in our great nation.”

The congressional seat is now held by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, who announced in January he is not seeking re-election this year.

Darden earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law, and is a managing partner in the Kingsport-based regional law firm of Hunter, Smith & Davis. Most of his 34-year practice with the firm has been in the area of labor and employment law.

“My negotiating and mediation skills are badly needed to help address the dysfunction and swamp culture that remain ingrained in Washington,” Darden said.

The Johnson City native said he supports President Donald Trump, and looks forward “to working with him and his administration during his second term.“

Darden served on the City Commission from 2001 to 2011.

He joins a growing field of Republican candidates for Congress, including State Sen. Dewey “Rusty” Crowe, R-Johnson City, who announced last month he is seeking the GOP nomination the 1st District seat.

In Washington County, former State Rep. Charles Allen, R-Johnson City, is among likely candidates who have picked up their qualifying petitions for the race. Allen said Monday he expects to make an announcement about the campaign within the next two weeks.

Others picking up papers in Washington County are Richard Baker as a Republican, James Brooks as a Democrat and Steve Holder as an independent candidate.

Candidates have until noon April 2 to qualify to appear on the Aug. 6 primary ballot.

As of Monday, three Republican candidates have picked up qualifying papers in Sullivan County for the 1st District race. They are Jason Scott Moore, Nichole Williams and Sullivan County Attorney Dan Street.

Former Kingsport Mayor John Clark, a Republican, announced in January he would be a candidate for Congress.

In Hawkins County, Democratic candidate Blair Waisingham announced her bid for Congress on Monday.

Air Force veteran Chris Rowe, a Democrat, announced early last year he was seeking the 1st District seat during a kickoff event at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

The 1st District covers all of Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties and parts of Jefferson and Sevier counties.

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