The embattled Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate says he doesn’t understand why the head of his party refuses to welcome him to the party ticket.
In a press conference outside the Metro Nashville Courthouse, presumptive nominee Mark Clayton told reporters that Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester took no issue with him in April when he dropped off his filing petitions to run for office.
“Chip Forrester is, despite reports to the contrary, not the Democratic Party. He just has a job. He just needs to stay at his office and do his job,” said Clayton, who prevailed as an underdog candidate in a crowded field. “I mean, if he did his job we wouldn’t have a problem with that. But if he continues to act against party rules and fight an elected nominee, then we’re going to have to go for his resignation.
“After everything that Martin Luther King went through, after everything we went through as a nation for civil rights, hundreds of years of slavery and violence, we’re going to have a Democratic Party that would take away people’s votes is just very shocking and disturbing to some of our supporters,” said Clayton.
Democratic Party officials publicly disavowed his candidacy after Clayton won last week, criticizing his membership of what the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as an “active anti-gay hate group,” a Virginia -based group called Public Advocate of the United States. Party chairman Chip Forrester said Clayton is not a “bona fide” Democrat.
State Elections Coordinator Mark Goins said there’s nothing the state can do if the party is unhappy with its nominee.
Going forward, the Democratic Party Executive Committee is pledging to “fix the candidate review process that allowed an extreme candidate who is not a Democrat on the ballot,” according to committee member Jim Bilbo.