Mark Clayton came out on top in a field of seven in the Tennessee Democratic party primary for US Senate on Tuesday. On Friday, his own party disowned him.
The Tennessee Democratic Party disavowed its own U.S. Senate nominee Friday, announcing that he is "associated with a known hate group" - in this case, a conservative advocacy organization.
Mark Clayton won Tuesday's Democratic primary with 30 percent of the vote in a field of seven candidates.
"The only time that Clayton has voted in a Democratic primary was when he was voting for himself," said the Tennessee Democratic Party in a statement. "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 concluded.
The "hate group" referred to in the statement is Public Advocate USA, a group that, according to a description on its website, "has become a highly visible political organization and a model for other conservative activist groups in Washington D.C. and across the country."
Public Advocate USA's recent efforts include advocacy campaigns against same-sex marriage and in favor of pro-life legislation.
"Our members are often at the forefront of the defining political issues of our time, always defending the rights of fathers, mothers and children to live their lives free from government intrusions and the self-serving motives of liberal special interests and agendas," the website says.
Clayton's campaign website is chock full of conspiracy theories, including the "NAFTA Superhighway," and my personal favorite involving the former California governor: "Schwarzenegger, born in Austria, wants to amend the Constitution so that he can become president and fulfill Hitler's superman scenario."
The group he belongs to, Public Advocate USA, is an anti-gay advocacy organzation designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. While it is true the SPLC has a very low bar for designating conservative hate groups, Public Advocate USA appears to make the cut with ease:
Public Advocate has a history of attacking the LGBT community. The letter notes that Public Advocate "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." It also describes other anti-gay activities by the group, including:
•Provoking readers through a fundraising letter to "imagine a world where the police allow homosexual adults to rape young boys in the streets";
- Comparing marriage equality to bestiality through production of a "Man-Donkey Mock Wedding Ceremony";
- Defamation of gay people as pedophiles and rapists to be feared. For instance, permitting gay men to be Boy Scout leaders, Public Advocate said, is "the same as being an accessory to the rape of hundreds of boys"; and
- Mischaracterizing national legislation to address an epidemic of anti-LGBT harassment at schools as "requir[ing] schools to teach appalling homosexual acts... force private and even religious schools to teach a pro-homosexual agenda... ram through their entire perverted vision for a homosexual America.... create a new America based on sexual promiscuity."
Somehow, the claim "We don't hate the sinner, only the sin," rings a little hollow here.