Sen. Rusty Crowe says he's running for Congress

Robert Houk • Feb 7, 2020 at 7:27 PM

A 30-year veteran of the Tennessee General Assembly has announced he is running for Congress.

State Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, said Friday he will soon pick up papers to qualify as a Republican candidate for the 1st District seat now held by retiring U.S. Rep. Phil Roe. 

“It matters who governs,” said Crowe, 72, who was first elected to the state Senate as a Democrat in 1990. “I can take what I’ve learned from state government to Washington, D.C. This is the right time, and the right thing to do.”

He is currently the dean of Northeast Tennessee’s legislative delegation in Nashville, and serves as chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee. Crowe said he decided to get into the race for Congress after talking to his family, hearing from constituents and being encouraged to do so by residents throughout the 1st District.

“I’m really energized,” he said. “I feel like I am 40 again”

A number of candidates for Congress have picked up their qualifying petitions, and have until noon on April 2 to return them. Among them is former state Rep. Charles Allen, R-Johnson City, who served in the General Assembly in the early 1990s.

“I am definitely serious,” Allen said. “I’ve not made an announcement yet, but I will soon.” 

The businessman and former banker said his decision to get into the race will not be influenced by who else is running.

‘The more the merrier,”  said Allen, who along with independent candidate Steve Arben Holder of Johnson City, picked up papers in Washington County earlier this week.

Former Johnson City Mayor Steve Darden said Friday he has requested qualifying papers from the state’s election office.

“This puts me one step closer to entering the race,” said Darden, who is a Republican. “I appreciate all the encouragement I have had to run.”

As of Friday, at least two Republican candidates have picked up qualifying papers in Sullivan County for the 1st District race. They are Nichole Williams, who calls herself a “feisty-conservative-patriot,” and Sullivan County Attorney Dan Street.

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

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. The district has historically been strongly Republican, with Robert Love Taylor being the last Democrat elected to the seat in 1879.

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.

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