This week, Tennessee Democrats went to the polls to nominate a challenger to face off against incumbent Republican Bob Corker for one of the state’s Senate seats. While no one certainly expects Corker to go down in November this year, Democrats still flocked to the polls to choose a contender.
In a field that was headlined (and I say that word very loosely) by actress and environmental activist Park Overall, Tennesseans voted for 35-year old Mark Clayton.
Yes, Mark Clayton actually won the primary on Thursday night with over 48,000 votes (Overall was back in third with a tick over 24,000) and Democratic loyalists scrambled to see who the man exactly was that they might be voting for in the fall.
Then they were repulsed to the point of disavowing the candidate’s win and urging voters to write-in a candidate in a saga that’s reminiscent of the odyssey that was Alvin Greene of South Carolina in 2010.
But what is it about Clayton that is so unbearable for the Democratic Party? To the outsider and the insiders, the seat is all but a lost cause; so why not just ignore it’s existence and try to put more resources into the races in Massachusetts, North Dakota, Missouri, etc.?
Well, as Clayton’s record was vetted; the Democratic Party found out that he was the Vice President of the Public Advocate of the United States which is an organization that has strong social neoconservative beliefs that include:
Public Advocate offers strong and vocal opposition to :
- Same sex marriage and the furtherance of so-called “Gay Rights”;
- The National Endowment of the Arts or taxpayer supported art and the federal funding and endorsement of pornography and obscenity as legitimate forms of art from any agency;
- The mainstream media’s promotion and glorification of drug abuse, teenage sex, gangs, atheism, homosexuality and other immoral behavior and beliefs;
- The passage of hate crimes and thought control legislation that creates inequality in our state and federal legal systems and singles out Christians or moral thinking people for persecution, fines, and harrassment by the government at any level;
- “Pro-choice” or abortion strengthening legislation that upholds or expands the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973;
- The creation of special classes of Americans at the expense of the traditional American family.
So, yes that’s fairly vile stuff; though it may lead to Dan Cathy of Chick-Fil-A to donate to a pro-Clayton SuperPAC, right? All joking aside, though, the group was designated as a hate group in March 2012 by the Southern Poverty Law Center for it’s extreme anti-gay views.
Last month after the Public Advocate used a photo of a happily married gay couple in a derogatory way, the SPLC said about the group:
[Eugene] Delgaudio’s [President of the Public Advocate] use of Brian and Tom’s personal photo is morally reprehensible,” said Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “For years, Delgaudio and Public Advocate have led a crusade against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This latest attack is the most vicious yet and should serve as a warning that your personal photos are not safe from anyone willing to stoop to the vilest level of harassment.
The reason that Clayton appears to have won though, isn’t because of his views obviously but for the fact that his name was at the top of the list as the candidates were sorted by alphabetical order.
As stated earlier in this post though, this controversy of a Mark Clayton candidacy isn’t new to the Democratic Party as we saw with the curious case of Alvin Greene. But we have to ask ourselves, why has this now happened in two consecutive election cycles? Why has a joke/vile candidate taken the place of a more credible one?
Well frankly, it has to do with the departure of former Vermont Governor and one-time Presidential candidate Howard Dean as head of the Democratic National Committee.
Dean’s tenure as chairman of the DNC was predicated off of one strategy that has almost become as synonymous with the former Governor as his infamous yell in 2004. The 50-State Strategy was the brainchild of Howard Dean and even though it was a national effort, most of the focus went to solidifying the base of the Democratic Party at the local and state levels.
The beauty of the 50-State Strategy is that while some may argue that it waste resources that could go to say, an Elizabeth Warren, it helps create awareness of WHO TO VOTE FOR. It goes to the very local levels of each state and it could very well find the next Senate candidate that could back themselves into a Senate seat if you can get a “wave” created. It also excites some of the party loyalists in red states such as Utah, North Dakota, Tennessee, etc. and makes them feel like they are welcomed by the powers that be in the party.
But ever since Dean left, his successors Tim Kaine and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz seem to have scaled back their efforts in Dean’s bold planning. Democrats have had trouble extending their bench in several key states and those cracks are really starting to show as the party tries to keep some of the seats that were won in the Dean era.
So how do we stop the Mark Claytons and Alvin Greenes from sabotaging the Democratic Party? We continue going national of course. Yes, that might bring in some Blue Dogs or “centrists” that could cause numerous headaches; but it gives Democrats a chance to fight for seats that were thought to be unattainable.
Yes, Bob Corker was going to win in November no matter what. But the hope was that the Democrats could’ve nominated a candidate that wouldn’t have had created such a PR disaster as Mark Clayton has today.