A federal district judge in Tennessee has been asked to void the results of this month's Democratic U.S. Senate primary vote, won by a man associated with an organization the state's Democratic party has described as a hate group.
One of the Democrats defeated in the primary filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, calling on U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp of the Middle District of Tennessee to stop the Tennessee Division of Elections from certifying the results of the election and order a new primary.
Larry Crim, who finished fourth in the race, says in the lawsuit that Mark Clayton was not a bona fide candidate for office because he had not voted in three previous Democratic primaries as required under party bylaws.
Crim's lawsuit says Clayton's name never should have appeared on the ballot, and accuses the Tennessee Democratic Party of not removing his name even though they knew he didn't qualify. Clayton is vice president of the Public Advocate of the United States, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an "active anti-gay group." Since the primary, the Tennessee Democratic Party has since disavowed Clayton's candidacy, saying he is a member of a "hate group" and urging Democrats to write in a candidate of their choice in November, when Clayton goes up against Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
"The only time that Clayton has voted in a Democratic primary was when he was voting for himself," the party said 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."
Crim argues that if not for the state Democratic party allowing Clayton to remain on the ballot, Crim would have been at the top of the ticket and, in theory, would have received those votes that helped Clayton win.
Clayton was also a candidate in the 2008 Democratic U.S. Senate primary, after which the Democratic party received complaints that he not did not qualify for that race either.
Clayton filed a motion to intervene in the case today, saying that he has a long history of being involved in the Democratic Party and has actually been given a "Certificate of Appreciation" from the Southern Poverty Law Center for taking a stand against hate.
Clayton won the Aug. 2 primary with 49,000 votes after raising $100 and spending $65 of it. He said in the motion that he "felt no need to spend his remaining $35 cash on hand due to the fact that he had made his best effort and fulfilled his duty to Almighty God in acting sincerely with his 'widow's mite' spent on behalf of his fellow Tennesseans and friends which he would never forsake nor betray by slacking off."
Crim asked for a hearing immediately. None has been scheduled.