Mark E. Clayton

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Mark E. Clayton
Born 1977 (age 39–40)
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Residence Whites Creek, Davidson County
Tennessee, U.S.
Alma mater Pensacola Christian College

Vice President, Public Advocate of the United States

U.S. Senate nominee in Tennessee, 2012
Political party Democratic

Mark E. Clayton (born 1977) is an American politician who was the Democratic nominee in the 2012 U.S. Senate election in Tennessee. In the August 2 primary election, Clayton received his party's nomination with roughly 30 percent of the vote in a multi-candidate field. There is no runoff election in Tennessee; therefore with less than a third of the votes cast, Clayton became his party's nominee. The day after his nomination, the Tennessee Democratic Party disavowed his candidacy, citing Clayton's conservative and libertarian views. Clayton lost to incumbent Republican Bob Corker in the November 6 general election.


Clayton was born in Mobile in south Alabama, but he was reared in Alexandria, Virginia. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Gill Clayton, were Goldwater Republicans. His father lobbied Congress on religious liberty issues. Clayton graduated from high school and served in the United States Army Reserve. He studied to be an aircraft electrician before he enrolled at Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, Florida,[1] from which he graduated in 2002.

In 2003, Clayton moved to Nashville. His father died in 2004 and Clayton purchased a 1920s-era farmhouse on three acres in Whites Creek in suburban Davidson County. Clayton, who has never been married, lives in Whites Creek with his dog, Saint.[2]

Clayton has worked at numerous jobs, including Target, a call center, as a floor installer, and as a salesperson of insurance, siding, and roofs. He is a church youth group leader. He is currently employed with a moving company.[citation needed]

2008 U.S. Senate candidacy[edit]

Clayton first ran for U.S. Senate in 2008, when he finished fourth among six candidates in the Democratic primary with 32,309 votes. Bob Tuke won the nomination with 59,000 votes and was then decisively defeated in the general election by the Republican incumbent Lamar Alexander of Maryville, whom Clayton had described as a "neo-conservative",[3]

2012 candidacy for U.S. Senate[edit]

After Clayton's primary triumph, the Tennessee Democratic Party disavowed his candidacy[4] and his vice-presidency of the socially conservative interest group, the Public Advocate of the United States, based in Washington, D.C.

The Tennessee Democratic Party issued this statement:

The only time that Clayton has voted in a Democratic primary was when he was voting for himself. 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. Unfortunately, none of the other Democratic candidates was able to run the race needed to gain statewide visibility or support. 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.[5]

Clayton won the Democratic nomination with 30% of the vote, despite raising no money and having a website that was four years out of date.[3] The next day Tennessee's Democratic Party disavowed the candidate over his active role in the Public Advocate of the United States, which they described as a "known hate group". They blamed his victory among candidates, for whom the TNDP provided little forums to become known, on the fact that his name appeared first on the ballot, and said they would do nothing to help his campaign, urging Democrats to vote for "the write-in candidate of their choice" in November.[4] One of the Democratic candidates, Larry Crim, filed a petition seeking to offer the voters a new primary in which to select a Democratic Nominee based on Democratic Chair Chip Forrester permitting Clayton, a nondemocratic candidate, at the top of ballot to benefit a candidate Forrester recruited and improperly endorsed - Overall - who did not win the primary. Forrester then disavowed Clayton he had allowed on the ballot after he received the most votes. The background is that the TNDP placed little emphasis on the U.S. Senate race in 2012 to replace Corker. Treasurer and Financial benefactor of the TNDP Bill Freeman who was under Forrester actually contributed to Republican Bob Corker's campaign and was later removed from office, followed by Forrester's not seeking another term subsequent to the TNDP 2012 fiasco. Crim filed a preliminary motion seeking a temporary restraining order against certification of the results until the merits of the case for a new primary could be decided. Yet, after a judge denied the temporary restraining order Crim withdrew his petition[5] stating at a news conference outside the Federal Courthouse that the costs of proceeding and the costs of a new primary to the Democratic Party, even if Crim won, would be overwhelming especially given the political realities the party leaders conducted and permitted to the detriment of any Democratic Nominee. Mr. Crim was subsequently elected Chair of Democrats United For Tennessee in 2012.

Clayton's nomination has been compared to that of the previously unknown Alvin Greene in the Democratic primary in the 2010 Senate race in South Carolina. Greene was then handily defeated by the Republican Jim DeMint.[6]


Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Clayton 48,126 30.0
Democratic Gary Gene Davis 24,789 15.4
Democratic Park Overall 24,263 15.1
Democratic Larry Crim 17,383 11.0
Democratic Benjamin Roberts 16,369 10.2
Democratic David Hancock 16,167 10.0
Democratic Thomas Owens 13,366 8.3
Total votes 160,331 100

2014 candidacy for Tennessee governor[edit]

Clayton attempted to register as a candidate in the Democratic primary for the Tennessee governor in 2014.[7][8] The Democratic Party of Tennessee denied his attempt to run in the primary election, describing him as, "not a bona fide Democrat." Clayton filed a suit in federal court, but lost when the judge found there were no grounds for the suit at the federal level.[9]

Political positions[edit]

Clayton opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, and believes that the TSA should be shut down. He opposes national ID Cards.[10]

Public Advocate of the United States[edit]

Clayton's work at the Public Advocate of the United States, a conservative group based in Washington, D.C., has come under scrutiny. The group has been designated as an anti-gay hate group by the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.[11]

In a press release The Public Advocate proclaimed that it "associates with members of both major parties in a non-partisan fashion and promotes traditional values". The organization contends that Clayton has demonstrated that "an American patriot can put his or her name on the ballot and win big as a conservative, even in the Democratic Party."[12] A Clayton spokesman criticized the state Democratic party for disowning the nominee and argued that the state party had violated the law by using its resources to attack one of its own candidates. The Clayton campaign also said that it would file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.[13]


  1. ^ "Mark E. Clayton". Retrieved August 16, 2012. "Mark E. Clayton". Retrieved August 16, 2012. 
  2. ^ Michael Cass Tenn. Senate candidate is an unconventional Democrat The (Nashville) Tennessean August 12, 2012 The (Nashville) Tennessean (USA Today)
  3. ^ "Dems Nominate Anti-Gay Conspiracy Theorist for Senate". Mother Jones. 
  4. ^ "Tennessee Democratic Party disavows Senate nominee". The Tennessean. August 3, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Tennessee Democrats Are Very Sorry About Mark Clayton". Nashville Scene. 
  6. ^ Rachel Rose Hartman, Tennessee Democrats reject U.S. Senate nominee Mark Clayton, August 6, 2012, The Ticket Yahoo! News
  7. ^ "Candidates Commit as Deadline Nears". Memphis Daily News. 
  8. ^ "Start your engines: Candidates qualify for state races". WBIR. 
  9. ^ "Disavowed Democrat Mark Clayton Loses Federal Suit". 
  10. ^ "Mark Clayton for Senate About". Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Tenn. Dems disavow Senate nominee, cite hate group". Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "Public Advocate Volunteer, Mark Clayton, Wins Democratic Party Senate Nomination -- Obama and Romney Could Learn from Clayton". 
  13. ^ "Clayton Defends Victory and Affiliation". 

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