He’s Not Our Nutjob

In case you didn’t hear, a homophobic right-wing nutjob ran for the Tennessee Democratic Party nomination for U.S. Senate in last week’s primary, and actually won. Now Tennessee Democrats are a national laughingstock.

Let me jump in here and point a few things out. First of all, Tennessee is an open primary state. Second of all, with incumbent Bob Corker on the Republican side assured of winning the actual seat, not too many people were willing to be the sacrificial lamb and offer themselves to the cause. No Republican had a serious hope of beating Corker in that primary, either. So of course the wackjobs ran as Democrats, and Mark Clayton — whose name appeared at the top of the alphabetical list — won. I don’t know if any Republican voters crossed over and voted in the Democratic primary, since there were some hotly contested Republican races that kept those folks voting in their own primary. But if you didn’t live in a district with such a race, crossing over might have been tempting to some folks “in the know.”

I’d never heard of Mark Clayton before walking into the voting booth. The Democratic candidate we all knew to vote for was Park Overall. But interestingly enough, Clayton wasn’t the only wackadoodle on the list. When I went to vote in our Democratic primary, there were a lot of names I didn’t recognize. For example: Gary Davis, who wants to do away with all foreign aid and “restore rights to the state by giving people full control of their own health care,”; and then Benjamin Roberts, who wants to return us to the gold standard because “inflation is grossly out of control,” despite it being only 1.7% right now. Neither of these people seems to espouse Democratic Party values, yet they ran for the Democratic Party nomination.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester explains how this happened:

Well, Tennessee has a very low threshold of 25 signatures to get on the ballot. So it’s not difficult to offer yourself as a candidate. We have a very small window of five days after candidate paperwork is filed and there are 99 House seats, 33 Senate seats, nine congressional seats. So we have five days to withdraw or not allow a Democratic candidate to be placed on a ballot. And it’s also a slippery slope to keep a candidate off the ballot. And frankly, we didn’t expect him to win … he had spent no money. But with turnout so low and [him] at the top of the ticket and his ballot placement as a “C”, it gave him, because nobody knew who these candidates were, an edge to win the primary.

I dunno, seems like you could get some College Democrats to sit down with a laptop and the Google for a weekend and do some research on who these candidates are. Shouldn’t be too hard. And in a state where just 25 signatures are required to get on the ballot and there’s an open primary just begging to be freeped, it seems like some due diligence is in order. If you aren’t going to “protect the brand” and keep people who are members of hate groups off the Democratic ballot for some weird reason (hey, it’s not like they can’t run as independents), well then at least support the candidate you have decided is the “real” Democrat. At least get the word out. I mean, why did it take until after election day to find out that Mark Clayton is the member of an anti-gay hate group? Maybe a press release or e-mail before the fact? Something? Ya think?

I dunno, this really pisses me off. These excuses just sound so weak to me. Mr. Beale tells me to quit whining. “If you can’t get the word out who the real candidate is, then get over it,” he says. And then he says, “Tennessee Democrats can out-wackadoodle anybody! We’ll put up someone so far to the right of the Republican Party in Tennessee that next year, we’ll get the NRA endorsement!”



Filed under Tennessee politics, TNDP

24 responses to “He’s Not Our Nutjob

  1. You know… I always totally hated this idea of open primaries. Couldn’t stand the idea of wishy-washy independents and republican saboteurs having any say in the sacred democratic nomination. Saw it coming. Was sorely disappointed by the reality.

    Our mayoral race is actually supposed to be non-partisan, but it has a similar effect due to this idea of a run-off between the top two vote-getters. (A few years ago, another heart candidate, surfer and councilperson Donna Frye actually got more votes than our current mayor, but not more than 50%. She went down in the run-off.) So we had a nice guy republican, Nathan Fletcher, who lost to whacka-doodle, tea party pension reformer Carl DiMaio who will face off against the democratic favorite. The race for U.S. representative had an incumbent, Bilbray, who actually gave money to his current rival, tepid democrat Scott Peters to make sure that heart candidate Lori Saldaña would lose coming in at third place. Lori is a very locally oriented people person who grew up riding motorcycles and playing in our canyons. Very much into true representation and local conservation issues.

    Open primaries pollute the process.

  2. It’s simple. For years, the TNDP has decided to be passive during the primary season, as if it were necessary. It isn’t necessary. Many state parties chose a preferred primary candidate and devote some resources to promoting that candidate. Absolutely, the TNDP has been scraping the bottom of the resource barrel for a long time. The national party has all but abandoned Tennessee. But Nashville also wastes a lot of its resources, so blame is easy to spread around. After this debacle, instead of taking responsibility for what happened, Forrester blamed the ballot. Really. He still hasn’t taken responsibility for something that is 100% his own fault. Then he tells us that we should write-in our own candidate, and still without naming one to support! Where is his head? Finally, a day later, he comes out of nowhere to say that “the party leaders (???)” supported Park Overall. And just when and how did they do that? In some private rubber chicken smoker? We never heard about it. As far as I know, Park never heard about it. As of about four hours ago, she was still waiting for Forrester to give her a call, backing her write-in candidacy. Dead silence. Is it any wonder we can’t beat a clown like Bob Corker?

    • Well, and the only thing I heard about Park Overall was that she was “seriously ill” and tried to withdraw but it was too late. I voted for her anyway (early voting) and then on election day I get a freaking robo-call from her saying she’s the Democratic candidate. Wait, I thought you were too ill to campaign? So that really muddied the waters, too.

      It was just a major fail all the way around. And I don’t know jack about how to run a state political party, but it does seem like some things could be done differently.

  3. Dru

    Well, I voted for Larry Crim. He has run before. I know FOR SURE he’s a Democrat. He also has well placed yard signs on major through streets in Nashville. In Texas, where I lived for nearly 25 years, parties raise money and run their own primaries. That didn’t work too well this last time though since senior citizens voted for a nut case named Yarbrough, thinking he was the deceased Ralph Yarbrough, a long ago populist contemporary of Albert Gore, SENIOR. Yarbrough didn’t win though, saving Texas Democrats from a similar embarrassment to what has happened in Tennessee. Rachel Maddow scorched our state over this primary, well, glitch.

    • Larry Crim, isn’t he the one who was head of the “Conservative Democratic Leadership Council”? I always thought that was a fake group he made up. And I always thought he was a fake Democrat, too. The only signs of his I saw were in the public right-of-way, which tells me a candidate can’t find enough real supporters willing to host a sign. But he’s another perennial candidate — I think he last ran for Congress and before that he ran for governor, right? I just didn’t take him seriously. But honestly, in this race it’s hard to take anyone seriously. And therein lies the problem.

  4. Meredith

    I heard about this last night on Rachel. I thought, does SB know?

    • Jim

      The TN Democrats have shown in the past that they are willing to throw out primary results and name a different winner when their preferred canidate did not win the primary. Why don’t they just do that again in this case?

      • The interview I link to explains how this is different from the Rosalind Kurita case. You should read it.

      • Jim

        Chip’s answer sounds like a cop out to me. I never heard of any fraudulant votes being cast in the Kurita election, Sure some Republicans chose to vote in the Democratic primary, but that is 100% legal in TN. The fact is the Democrats decided they did not want Kurita to be their canidate, so they changed the election results. The courts decided that the Democratic party had the right to select whoever they wanted to be their canidate and that the primary elections were not binding on the party. So regardless of what Chip said in the interview, the Democratic party does indeed have the authority to change the results.

  5. Ooohhhhhh…..

    Please put up somebody really conservative up against Corker or Alexander in the primary!

    They would have my vote, just like Zach Poskevich did!

    PS – might have to check this Mark Clayton guy out. Certainly couldn’t be much more liberal than Corker.

    • But those people wouldn’t be true Democrats. Then again, if it helps keep the U.S. Senate in the hands of real Democrats and we keep our majority, I supposed I could live with it. It’s not like Corker doesn’t vote in lockstep with the Republicans 99.9% of the time anyway.

      • Actually, Corker voted lock step with the Dems over 60% of the time.

      • Hilarious. Also, wrong. The facts show he votes with the Republican Party 90%.

        He doesn’t mouth your Tea Party bs and wear shirts emblazoned with bald eagles and American flags though, so in that sense I guess he flunks the Teanuts’ ideological purity test. Y’all really need to get some kind of handle on reality.

        The good news is that, while Tennessee doesn’t appear to have a functioning Democratic Party, the Tea Party is killing the GOP. Democrats are in disarray, as usual, but so are Republicans.

  6. That’s just…sad. Forrester sounds like a bit of a Vichy Democrat, but 25 signatures to get on the ballot is asinine.

    Democrats at state level seriously need to get it through their heads that if they keep rolling over for the NeoConfederates, they’re not going to get belly rubs.

  7. The same sort of thing happened in AZ, recently. Some racist piece-of-shit Minuteman J.T. Ready ran on the democratic ticket for Sheriff ofd Pinal County against this upstanding GOP dude (http://pocho.com/mexican-mitt-romney-on-sheriff-babeu-campaign-co-chair-with-exmex-bf/).

    • Remember that guy who win in SC? And in WI the GOP was actively recruiting homeless people to run in the recalls. I have to rhink this is a rat- fucking strategy.

  8. I just posted about this debacle myself and will go back and add a link to your piece. I’m active on a private group with Park Overall – haven’t heard anything about her being ill but may have missed it. She came in a close 3rd to the 2nd place “winner” – Gary Gene Davis. He with 15.4 and she with 15.1 percent. At least the accused pedophile didn’t get the nod.

    Anyway, this never ever should have happened. The TNDP should avoid endorsing a candidate for a primary but they sure as hell have an obligation to inform voters. I’m not that involved in TN politics but can’t say I’m all that impressed with the capabilities of the local yokels.

  9. greennotGreen

    I was astonished to learn that there was a senatorial primary – which I found out when I arrived at the poll. If I’d voted early, I would have had the chance to go home and research the choices, but I put it off, so there I was, now or never. I didn’t vote for anybody for senate because I thought it was better to not vote for a good guy than to vote for a bad guy. In that respect I was right. The only other time failure to vote has worked for me was the time I got off from work late and therefore didn’t vote for Ray Blanton.

    Yeah, major fail from the TNDP.

  10. Kosh III

    Chips statement that the Party is “neutral” in primaries is pure BS.
    They labored mightily to shove Kim McMillan out in 2006 since Harold Jr was a shoo-in. Right?
    A word, a hint to the right deep-pocket Democrats could have gotten Overall enough resources to have run a decent campaign–but she’s a woman and the TN Dems are still a good-old boys club–just token women and no gay people allowed-and god forbid someone have genuine progressive values and the courage to stand on them.

    I’ll probably vote for the Green candidate.

  11. I never liked open primaries. republicans strategize and vote for a candidate they think is a sure loser in a real election.

  12. self

    There is a difference between reasons and excuses. Forrester is giving a reason; he is not giving an excuse.
    Corker is destined to win. Too many Dems realized this and just voted ‘for anyone but Corker’ which ended up, sadly, being the first name on the ballot.
    If one cannot google a name or at least click on the sites the TNDP provided, perhaps they should at least have left that office blank on the ballot rather embarrassing themselves