A church youth leader who won the 2012 Democratic primary Senate election in Tennessee — only to be disavowed for allegedly being anti-gay — is fighting back.
Mark Clayton has filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Democratic Party and its leaders for voiding his primary victory, the Tennessean newspaper reports
The lawsuit charges the party declared he was “not really a Democrat" and generally treated his nomination "as if it did not happen,”
It also charges Democratic officials with forcibly removing Clayton from party headquarters when he asked to review records.
In addition, it alleges officials made false and misleading statements about him, according to the newspaper.
Clayton — who was one of seven candidates vying for the Democratic nod to run against Republican Bob Corker — won by a landslide on Aug. 2, 2012.
But the party quickly disavowed him, partly for his position as vice president in the Virginia-based group, Public Advocate of the United States, which describes itself as a "dedicated group of young conservatives."
Its website states the group supports a "federal traditional marriage (man-woman) amendment to the Constitution to defend traditional marriage from assaults from those who claim to promote 'same sex marriage.'"
The conservative organization has been called an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups around the country.
Democratic officials also urged voters to write in any other name other than Clayton’s at the polls
Clayton, a church youth group leader, ended up losing to Corker by a large margin.
The suit asks that Democratic party officials be found in violation of state law, fined $500 each and charged with court costs and "reasonable attorney fees."
Gerard Stranch, an attorney for the Tennessee Democratic Party, told the Tennessean the suit "is clearly without merit."
He added that a motion to dismiss it will be filed.
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