Darden Campaign Surges Ahead Of Election Day With Multiple Newspaper Endorsements

(Johnson City, Tenn.) – Republican candidate for U.S. Congress Steve Darden is racking up multiple endorsements from newspapers and key community leaders for his campaign. Darden’s campaign is surging as voters stand ready to for vote for the small businessman in tomorrow at 1st District Republican Primary.

Today, the Kingsport Times News and the Morristown Citizen Tribune both endorsed Darden. On Sunday, the Johnson City Press, published its endorsement of Steve Darden. The endorsements by these three major newspapers in the 1st District are a break from recent years when regional newspapers refrained from endorsing candidates.  

Today’s Kingsport Times News said, “Darden has shown himself to be a reasoned man who maintains the disposition necessary to represent the 1St District with the dignity, fortitude and sense of honor the office deserves.” The Morristown Citizen Tribune said of Darden, “Darden represents the right mix of real-world and political experience for East Tennessee. Darden has the track record to go to Washington and make a difference. He has a history of making the hard decisions and a record of professional mediation to help bridge the gridlock and actually get something done.”

In Sunday’s edition, the Johnson City Press had this to say in its endorsement,” Northeast Tennessee needs a statesman in Congress, not a pure politician. The 1st Congressional District needs a representative who will fight for improvement for its citizens, not someone caught up in the political rancor dividing this nation. We believe the candidate with the most potential to fill that role is Steve Darden.”

“I want to thank the leadership of these important newspapers in the 1st District for their endorsements and their insights into what truly makes a great Congressman,” says Darden. “This race has seen nearly $3 million dollars spent by outside political action committees, and from candidates with no experience in government. Ultimately, more and more voters are telling our campaign that they are voting for positive leadership from a leader who will serve our District well. They are voting for ‘The Darden Difference’. Thank you and I urge you to go to your poll tomorrow and vote for Steve Darden.”

Other endorsements have come from Congressman Phil Roe’s long-time District Director, John Abe Teague, as well as his previous Treasurer Gerald Thomas, long-time Washington County Commissioner, Pat Wolfe and his wife Becky, former Johnson City Mayor, Jeff Banyas, former Johnson City Police Chief, John Lowry, Cocke County retired Judge Ben Hooper II, former Sevier County Trustee for 30 years, Jettie Clabo, and Tri-Cities Airport Commissioner Todd Hensley.

For more information on Steve Darden and endorsements from other community leaders visit his Facebook page, Steve Darden for Congress.

Darden Earns Victory in Sevier County Debate of Candidates in U.S. Congressional Race

(Sevierville, Tenn.) – Conservative Republican candidate for U.S. Congress Steve Darden outshined other candidates by focusing on how he will make an important difference for the 1st Congressional District during a live streamed debate tonight in Sevierville.

“I focused on ‘The Darden Differences’ that set me apart from the other candidates in the Republican Primary,” said local business owner, labor lawyer and mediator Steve Darden. “I showed that my experience as a former Mayor of Johnson City, and the skills I’ve developed at the negotiating tables and in the boardrooms and courtrooms of East Tennessee make me prepared to be our next Congressman. I’m professional in my approach toward solving problems and have the right demeanor for finding solutions.”

“I’m a native son of East Tennessee and am passionate about the people who live in the best place I know of to live, work, worship and raise a family. I have the right personality for listening, acting in the best interests of our constituents and being a Congressman who will help recruit new businesses and bring additional government support to our district and help make lives better here in our area,” Darden said.

“This race is filled with career politicians and those with no governmental experience,” says Darden. “With nearly two-million dollars in dark money or personal investments in their campaigns, it seems they’re trying to buy the seat. Two of them didn’t even choose to attend the debate. Others were no-shows in the debate last week in Blountville as well. I’ve run a positive campaign to show that I will do the best job for our district. We are at a crucial time in the history of our district and our nation. With your vote I will be a difference maker, not a space taker in Congress.”

After the debate, Darden said, “Channeling the great communicator, President Ronald Regan, “It’s morning in the First District.” Great things lie ahead. Put me to work for you and your family. Vote for Steve Darden. Tell your friends, your family and your coworkers.

Early voting in the Republican Primary ends on Saturday, August 1st. Election day is August 6th. For more information on Steve Darden, visit SteveDarden.com or find him on Facebook.

Former Johnson City mayor stops in Morristown, talks job creation

Citizen Tribune, Monday, July 6, 2020

Steve Darden, Republican candidate for Tennessee District 1, stopped by the Noon Rotary Club this week to catch up on the latest within the Lakeway Area and said its key to be in Morristown because it’s a job creator.

“Hamblen County is the hub of job creation and an economic powerhouse in the Lakeway area so it makes sense for me to be here as often as possible during the campaign”, Darden said.

Darden, former mayor and commissioner for Johnson City, said he is a Rotarion and “knows all about service above self.“

Darden is vying for the 1st Congressional District seat after U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, decided not to run for reelection earlier this year.

The primary is Aug. 6 and the Republican field is crowded with 14 other candidates.

Darden said he is running on the platform of experience as a mayor, commissioner and small businessman.

“I emphasize that with my long-term affiliation with Congressman Roe, having both been Mayors and serving together for six years on the Johnson City City Commission I offer continuity from his administration,” he said. “Congressman Roe and his staff are known for excellent constituent service, and I’ve seen up close and personal how hard they work. That will continue with me. I would also maintain a Morristown office.”

He said he is not a career politician.

“I occupy that sweet spot between the career politicians in the race and those with zero experience in office,” Darden said. “As a former mayor, I sincerely believe that I have the best background, personality, integrity and skills to lead our district and be an effective ambassador to the rest of the state, nation and world.”

Darden received his accounting and law degrees from the University of Tennessee where he was named a Torchbearer as a college senior. He is also a listed mediator and served as managing partner of Hunter, Smith & Davis, a leading east Tennessee law firm.

As Johnson City mayor, Darden said he helped revitalize the city’s downtown to offer a mix of entertainment, dining, retail and new businesses. He said he is a staunch believer in public education, including trades and technical training, and helped build a culture within the city of community policing. He fostered an environment for growth in tourism through the development of parks and the Tweetsie Trail, a rails to trails recreational project, which has kept taxes low and created new jobs.

Darden said he sees a lot of similarities between Morristown and Johnson City.

“Hamblen County and Washington County are alike in that both draw from the surrounding area to provide jobs,” he said. “I realize that Hamblen County’s population swells by about 15,000 people every day, who are coming here from Sevier, Grainger, Cocke, Hancock, and Jefferson Counties and beyond to work or further their education. My round tables with area manufacturers have shown me that there is a very strong commitment to providing jobs here, and the know-how to recruit more.”



Steve Darden Names Jettie Clabo Sevier County Campaign Chairman

(Sevierville, Tenn.) – Conservative Republican candidate for Congress, Steve Darden, has named Jettie Clabo as his Campaign Chairman for Sevier County in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives for the 1st Congressional District of Tennessee. The announcement comes as Darden finalizes the leadership in his organization in preparation for the August 6th Republican Primary.

“Jettie did a tremendous job as Sevier County Trustee for many years and I’ve been impressed that we share the same priorities for serving the people of an East Tennessee treasure, Sevier County,” says Darden. “Sevier County is an economic powerhouse, providing jobs for people from Sevier, Cocke, Hamblen, Hancock, and Jefferson Counties. I’m focused on a rapid recovery for businesses and their employees from the COVID pandemic and recent civil unrest. Like President Reagan, I believe that the best social program for America is a good job.”

“I’ve looked at the candidates for 1st District Congressman and Steve Darden is our best choice,” says Clabo. “Steve is a small business owner, and he supports President Trump’s economic policies and – like the President – is not a career politician. As a former Mayor, I think Steve has the best background, personality, integrity and skills to lead. I know that Steve will fight for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and our other outdoor assets as well. These are just a few “Darden Differences” and some of the reasons why I urge every voter to cast their ballot for Steve to replace my good friend – Congressman Roe – in the Republican Primary on August 6th or during the early voting period.”

Darden received his accounting and law degrees from the University of Tennessee where he was named a Torchbearer as a college senior. He is also a listed mediator and served as managing partner of Hunter, Smith & Davis, a leading east Tennessee law firm. As Mayor of Johnson City, Darden helped to revitalize the city’s downtown to offer a mix of entertainment, dining, retail and new businesses. He is a staunch believer in public education, including trades and technical training, and helped build a culture within the city of community policing. He fostered an environment for growth in tourism through the development of parks and the Tweetsie Trail, a rails to trails recreational project, which has kept taxes low and created new jobs.

“I believe that we can return to a thriving economy in Sevier County and the 1st District, while re-uniting the country,” Darden says. “Jettie Clabo will help me carry that important message here in Sevier County.”

Early voting in the upcoming primary begins July 17th. Election day is August 6th.

For more information on Steve Darden or to contribute to his campaign, visit SteveDarden.com. To volunteer to join Jettie Clabo and the rest of the team, click the volunteer button on Steve Darden.com.

Darden wants to bring record of service to Washington D.C.

Morristown Citizen Tribune, March 15, 2020

When U.S. Rep. Phil Roe announced he would not seek another term representing Tennessee’s first congressional district, it sounded a starter’s gun, signaling to conservatives around the district it was time to start running.

Among the crowded field is Steve Darden, a lawyer, mediator and former Johnson City mayor, who served closely with Roe on the Johnson City commission. Darden, however, isn’t worried about competing with a bevy of candidates, he just wants run on his own merits.

“I don’t feel like I’m running against anybody. I’m simply putting myself out there,” he said. “I don’t know how to run other than to simply state my case, demonstrate to the voters that I’m the right person for the job.”

A University of Tennessee Knoxville graduate, Darden has practiced law with Hunter, Smith & Davis, and a Kingsport-based regional firm that also has a Johnson City office.

In his 34-year career, he has mostly practiced labor and employment law and is also a Listed Rule 31 Mediator.

“I’m a small business owner, and our law firm provides a livelihood for nearly 50 families in Kingsport and Johnson City,” Darden said. “As our firm’s Managing Partner, I know very well the challenges of meeting a payroll and of providing benefits. It’s absolutely critical that, as a nation, we figure out how to bring down the cost of health care and prescriptions.”

Darden said his career as a lawyer and a mediator will serve him well in Washington.

“I have reasoning and persuasive skills that I’ve developed over my 34 year law practice,” he said. “I’m also trained in the art of bringing people together when that’s called for. I think both the advocacy and the mediation skills have important roles in a dysfunctional congress.”

Darden’s platform is pretty standard for an East Tennessee conservative.

He’s pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, but also stressed that he is a staunch supporter of the other amendments as well.

“I want to emphasize that the freedoms outlined, particularly the Bill of Rights are fiercely protected,” he said. “I will demonstrate conservative values … I’m a staunch proponent of liberty. I’m in awe of our founders … that still gives me chills.”

Darden’s brother Bill is a field representative for Roe and, as such, Darden said he understands a congressperson’s role is multi-pronged. They must work in Washington to help legislate but they must also render service to the people of the first district, he said.

“Congressman Roe and his field representatives have rendered exemplary service to the people of the First Congressional District,” he said. “I have no intention of reinventing the wheel. I plan on providing continuity of service at a level they had provided.”

Darden said service is a trait that he and his brother developed at an early age working in their World War II veteran father’s restaurant. And as the grandsons of Alabanian immigrants on his mother’s side, Steve said he and his brother learned first-hand about the value of the American Dream.

“The Dardens have been in East Tennessee for multiple generations, but our mother’s parents immigrated to the United States from Albania,” he said. “You would never encounter prouder Americans than my grandparents. They came to this country. They followed the rules and came through Ellis Island … My grandmother alternated living with us and our aunt and her English was never perfect but she could say with crystal clarity ‘God Bless America.’”

Darden said he is a strong opponent of socialism and has a track record of industrial recruitment.

“I feel like a job is the best social program we can have,” he said.

Darden said as the First Congressional District’s representative he will work to help East Tennessee share in some of the economic growth seen in Middle Tennessee.

“We need better jobs. We need to make sure our youth, when they complete their education, we need places for them to work so they don’t have to leave,” he said. “I have a track record of success with economic development. I hope to continue doing that on a greater scale. I hope to be a great ambassador.”

Darden also gave a nod to the successes of Hamblen County and the Lakeway Area.

“Hamblen County has a really impressive record with industrial recruitment and job growth,” he said, acknowledging the community’s leaders. “I would pledge to be a supporter of those efforts.”

Darden spoke about the United States’ complicated relationship with China, a valued trade partner that also allegedly engages in acts of industrial espionage, including a recent high-profile case in Johnson City.

“I believe that how our relationship with China is managed is one of the most critical issues that will shape the coming decades,” he said. “I applaud President Trump for confronting head on the Chinese government. It’s clear that while we often attempt to play fair, sometimes our trade partners don’t value fair play.

“I think it’s very important for President Trump to demonstrate to the Chinese that we won’t be walked over.”

In these trying times, Darden said there is a responsibility that comes with running for office. The decisions made in Washington can be life or death.

“Who knows what decisions will have to be made in the next two years or beyond,” he said. “I believe that I have the type of temperament and the ability to study issues, to listen to arguments on both sides, makes a decision that’s in the best interest of the United States of America and the best interest of the first district and those are weighty things to consider.

“I believe I have the years of experience of judgment that will equip me to make those decisions. I value expertise but I also think the exercise of common sense is vital to a role like this. I don’t doubt that I’m up to the task.

“I’m a person of faith, a lifelong member of Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church. I find when you believe there is a greater power, it brings calmness and clarity.”

As a mediator, Darden said he recognizes there are issues that require nuance, give and take. But, he said, there are also principle issues on which Republicans must stand firm.

“You’re not always gonna get your way,” he said. “I think there are certain things that are deal breakers. I alluded to the fact that our system of government and our economic system is the best the world has ever known. We cannot give in to socialism because that would be against our core values. That would be something I would fight against.

“(However) when there are issues that lend themselves to reaching across the aisle, I would do that and I hope the other side would as well. We are more alike than we are different… I think sometimes we forget that.”

Darden has been married to his wife Anne, an English teacher at Northeast State Community College, for 30 years. They have two grown children, Katie and Gus.

Darden Endorsed By Former Johnson City Mayor Dr. Jeff Banyas.

Vote for Steve Darden in upcoming election.

Bristol Herald Courier, May 18, 2020, Wayne Walters | Bluff City, Tennessee

I am writing in support of Steve Darden in his campaign to replace retiring Congressional District U.S. Rep. Phil Roe in the upcoming Aug. 6, 2020, Republican primary election.

While working many years in the Human Resources Department of a local company, I had the opportunity to work with Steve as our lawyer and found him to be highly intelligent, professional and an excellent listener with strong verbal and written communication skills.

Steve was always approachable, prompt in addressing matters of concerns, courteous and well prepared when participating in meetings. He was knowledgeable about the law and fundamental business principles. With an undergraduate degree in accounting, he was able to understand issues from a financial perspective.

Steve has been involved in civic and governmental activities for many years, most notably serving Johnson City Board of Commissions for 10 years, including terms as mayor and vice mayor.

Based on the above and many other leadership attributes, Steve Darden will be an excellent replacement for the upcoming Republican primary election.

Thank you.

Darden qualifies to run for Congress

Morristown Citizen Tribune, April 3, 2020

Steve Darden, former Johnson City Mayor and Republican candidate for U. S. Congress in the First District, announced that his qualifying petition for the August Primary Ballot has been filed and certified by the state election officials.

“I’m honored that my name will be on the ballot,” Darden said, “and I will work hard to earn the support of every voter in the First District between now and the August 6 Republican Primary.”

“I’m running,” Darden said, “to work with my neighbors in the First District to make life better from Mountain City through the Lakeway area and the lower end. We’re going through a hard time, but we’ll get through it as a region and as a nation, learn some lessons in the process, and recover. We’re Tennesseans, we’re Americans. That’s what we do.”

Darden was spending time throughout the First District before the Coronavirus crisis escalated several weeks ago. Twenty-five qualified signatures are required. Darden collected 75 total signatures, representing many of the First District’s counties.

“When the virus led to social distancing, I had enough signatures and decided to go ahead and file,” Darden said. “This campaign is important, but making sure folks are safe and minimizing risks of exposure is more important by far. I expect to spend a lot of time on the telephone, e-mail, text and social media reaching out to voters in the coming weeks.”

“As most of us spend more time with our families in the safety of our homes, my prayer is for the safety and health of every citizen of the First District,” Darden said. “Let’s all look for ways to help others during this time and be grateful that our lights come on, our water still runs, and our mail is still delivered.”

“We owe a special thanks and debt of gratitude to those on the frontline – our police officers, firefighters, first responders, healthcare professionals, and our friends who work in grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential services. They are real heroes.”