By Michael Cass /The Tennessean
Mark Clayton, the out-of-nowhere candidate who won the 2012 U.S.
Senate Democratic primary election and was promptly disavowed by the
Tennessee Democratic Party, has sued the party and dozens of its
officials a year later.
In a lawsuit filed this week, Clayton says
party leaders, including then-Chairman Chip Forrester, "constructively
voided his primary victory by publicly stating that they disavowed him
as the nominee, that he was not really the party nominee and that he was
not really a Democrat and generally treating his nomination as if it
did not happen."
Gerard Stranch, an attorney for the Tennessee
Democratic Party, said the suit "is clearly without merit" and that the
party would be filing a motion to dismiss it. He declined to elaborate.
whose name was first on the ballot, won the seven-candidate primary by a
landslide on Aug. 2, 2012. His victory stunned and embarrassed
Democratic officials, who had failed to recruit a more formidable
The state party quickly disassociated itself from
Clayton, saying he had rarely voted for anyone but himself in Democratic
primaries and that he belonged to an anti-gay hate group, Public
Advocate of the United States. The party urged voters to write in any
other name during the general election in November.
in an interview last year that he spent part of 2008 asking voters
around the country about their views on gay marriage for Public
Advocate. The videos are available on the organization's YouTube
channel, which also includes a 2011 video of Clayton asking Nashville
Mayor Karl Dean, "Hey, Mr. Mayor, do you wear a dress?"
occasion, suspicious that Google was artificially holding down his
campaign web site's ranking in searches, he accused the Internet giant
of being in cahoots with the Communist Chinese government.
who also expressed pro-life views while voicing disappointment with
some other conservative policies, such as the war in Iraq, went on to
lose by a large margin to incumbent Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican.
lawsuit, filed in Davidson County Circuit Court, says officials
forcibly removed Clayton from party headquarters when he asked to review
records last October and that they made false and misleading statements
It asks that they be found in violation of state law,
fined $500 each and charged with court costs and "reasonable attorney