The Tennessee Democratic Party is disavowing the man who won the party's nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Bob Corker in November, saying the little-known candidate belongs to an anti-gay hate group.
Mark Clayton, 35, reported raising no money and campaigned little, but received more than 48,000 votes-- twice the number of his nearest competitor in Thursday's seven-candidate Democratic primary.
Clayton is vice president of the group "Public Advocate of the United States," which says it "offers strong and vocal opposition to," among other things, "same-sex marriage and the furtherance of so-called gay rights" on its website.
The Southern Poverty Law Center considers it a "hate group," and Rachel Maddow has declared the man to be an "anti-gay conspiracy theorist."
The Tennessean has more information:
Less than 24 hours after a man espousing conservative and libertarian views surprised the state’s political scene by winning the Democratic nomination, the Tennessee Democratic Party disavowed him, saying he’s part of an anti-gay hate group.
"The only time that Clayton has voted in a Democratic primary was when he was voting for himself,” the party said in a news release. “Many Democrats in Tennessee knew nothing about any of the candidates in the race, so they voted for the person at the top of the ticket. Unfortunately, none of the other Democratic candidates were able to run the race needed to gain statewide visibility or support.
Clayton campaign’s Facebook page champions three major positions: strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution, family stances that are pro-life, and keeping the country from turning into “AN ORWELLIAN SUPER STATE.” [Emphasis added]
However, the man's campaign page is also littered with references to World War III, and "secret electronic tags" supposedly embedded in ID cards that the government uses to "hunt and track innocent Americans against our will."
Here is a clip of Clayton explaining why he thinks the Democrats really dropped him, via the Tennessean:
Party spokesman Sean Braisted says officials are trying to figure out what the party can do beyond just condemning Clayton.
"We aren't taking any options off the table at this time," Braisted said in an email. “The only option we are taking off the table...is supporting Mark Clayton.”
At this point, they are urging Democrats to write-in another candidate at the ballot box.
“What a debacle in Tennessee,” the liberal website the Daily Kos concluded Friday. “It's not like Democrats were ever going to have a shot at unseating freshman Sen. Bob Corker, but at least our preferred candidate, actress and activist Park Overall, is a real Democrat. The guy Dems did nominate seems to be anything but.”
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney gloated on Twitter, writing: “Nice vetting job by the Dems."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.