(CNN) – The Tennessee Democratic Party has distanced itself from the winner of its primary in a U.S. Senate race and on Friday encouraged Democrats to write in someone other than Mark Clayton in November.
"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 party said.
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Clayton's candidacy may mean little to the race, as the nonpartisan political handicappers Cook Report and Rothenberg Political Report rate it as safely in the hands of incumbent Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican.
While he does not have the support of his own party, the endorsements page of Clayton's website shows he has the backing of Eugene Delgaudio, whose group Public Advocate of the United States is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an "Active Anti-Gay Group."
Clayton won less than 30% of the 160,000 votes cast in the Democratic primary, and the party said in a Friday statement that his win was a fluke.
"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," the party said in a statement. "Unfortunately, none of the other Democratic candidates were able to run the race needed to gain statewide visibility or support."
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said in a statement Friday that, "What was once a Party with a national voice, the Tennessee Democratic Party, now finds itself in disarray with their struggle to nominate and field legitimate candidates."
Although Clayton is up against Corker, his endorsement from Delgaudio on the Clayton for Senate website indicates Delgaudio has "personally endorsed Mark Clayton for U.S. Senate as the best candidate to defeat Lamar Alexander."
The seat held by Alexander, the state's senior senator and also a Republican, won't be on the ballot until 2014.
– CNN's Gregory Wallace, Dave Alsup, and Adam Levy contributed to this report
"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," the party said in a statement."
Tennessee moved up in the national educational rankings to 21st recently. What happened here?
What an excuse to say that voters voted for the person on the top of the ticket and voters knew nothing about the candidates, Mark Clayton seems very busy in his activities so how could voters not have known who he is or stands for? Seriously, there are many Democrats who are anti-gay and this voting outcome shows it. Democrats just want everyone to think that all Democrats are pro-gays and that is not true. I know many Democrats are anti-gay and argue the point with me because I am not anti-gay. Mark Clayton won because maybe this dumb mess with Chik-Fil-A had an impact on it. Are they also going to put Mark Clayton next to Chik-Fil-A? Besides, Chik-Fil-A is about Freedom of Speech just like Mark Clayton has the right to Freedom of anti-gay, I don't remember the Democrat Party having a rule that all Democrats must be pro-gay. I don't see why Mark Clayton should be replaced just because he is anti-gay, it's his Freedom to feel that way about gays.
Well, the republican party sometimes runs candidates affiliated with hate groups, too... so I guess this is as reasonable as their choices.
Supported by hate groups? IOKIYAR.
Wow, Democrats voting without having a clue about what or for whom they are voting. And CNN thinks this is news?
Corker is an irresponsible child.
Good for the democratic party of TN- shows some integrity. Get rid of the Weiners and haters and Blagos out of your own ranks and maybe some independents will vote dem more often.
It only shows why we need an IQ test to vote. We should not let our country's leaders be selected by the uninformed.
The next GOP tactic...have GOP idealogues register as Dems to win seats. Isn'tthat what a blue dog Dem is? There are no words left to describe how low the GOP has stooped. pathetic.
At least they are saying their party's candidate is not up to par.... unlike the republicans who will take anyone, including Romney, and his stupid gaffes.
Tennessee is like many of the "red" states – so radical in their Teavangelical hatred for the American government nobody but the extreme right-wing has much of a chance. Hate and bigotry have become the foundation for Southern Christianity.
At least the Democratic Party has the balls to stand up against hate groups unlike the GOP who supports the Tea Party .