Harshbarger wins US House GOP primary

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Diana Harshbarger has won the Republican primary for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District seat, emerging from a crowded field of candidates that included several former mayors and current state legislators. 

Harshbarger is running for the seat currently held by Republican Rep. Phil Roe, who is not seeking a seventh term

The Kingsport pharmacist’s victory comes amid lingering questions surrounding her possible involvement in her husband’s now-defunct pharmaceutical company, American Inhalation Medication Specialists (AIMS). Her husband Robert was sentenced in 2013 to four years in prison after pleading guilty to mislabeling Chinese drugs as U.S. made products. 

Harshbarger told News Channel 11 in May that she “had no role or involvement in that company whatsoever.” However, public records suggest that is not true

A self-described “Trump conservative,” Harshbarger touted her lack of political experience during her campaign. She said she would be able to bring “a fresh approach and new ideas” to Washington.

In an attack ad, Harshbarger’s campaign referred to some of her more politically experienced opponents as “snakes.” The ad targeted former Johnson City Mayor Steve Darden, former Kingsport Mayor John Clark, state Sen. Rusty Crowe, and state Rep. Timothy Hill.

She was criticized by some opponents for not participating in two debates with other congressional candidates. 

Records show that Harshbarger largely bankrolled her campaign with $1.4 million of her own money. Through July 17, her campaign also logged the most receipts and disbursements compared to her opponents. 

Rep. Roe issued this statement on Harshbarger’s victory:

“I congratulate Diana Harshbarger on a hard-fought victory in the primary and pledge to do everything I can to help ensure she wins the general election in November. As Republicans, we now need to all come together and unite for our common cause. COVID-19 is a challenge unlike any our nation has ever faced, and we need commonsense conservative leaders to step up and help ensure America comes back stronger than ever. I know Diana will be such a leader for East Tennessee and will help President Trump keep America great.”

Rep. Phil Roe

Harshbarger will face Democratic nominee Blair Walsingham and independent candidate Steve Holder in the Nov. 3 general election. 

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