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Senate nominee Mark Clayton disavowed by Tennessee Democratic Party

3:04 PM, Aug 3, 2012   |    comments
Mark Clayton
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By Michael Cass | The Tennessean

The Tennessee Democratic Party today disavowed its Senate nominee, Mark Clayton, saying he is "associated with a known 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.

"Mark Clayton is associated with a known hate group in Washington, D.C., and the Tennessee Democratic Party disavows his candidacy, will not do anything to promote or support him in any way, and urges Democrats to write-in a candidate of their choice in November."

The statement did not identify the hate group, but party spokesman Sean Braisted said it is Public Advocate USA, which was designated as "an anti-gay hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center in March. A story on the center's web site says Public Advocate USA "has spread lies and vitriol about LGBT people to raise funds, impede progress toward greater equality and to deny LGBT people basic dignity and respect."

Clayton easily won the seven-candidate Democratic primary on Thursday, drawing nearly twice as many votes as his closest challenger. He will face U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a first-term Republican, in November.

The Tennessee Democratic Party tweeted this afternoon that it's encouraging Democrats to "write-in the name of their choosing."

Contact Michael Cass at 615-259-8838 or mcass@tennessean.com. Follow him on Twitter @tnmetro.

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