NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/NewsChannel 5) - A federal judge has refused to void the Tennessee Democratic primary for U.S. Senate won by an anti-gay candidate the party has disavowed.
District Judge Kevin Sharp ruled that the lawsuit filed by losing candidate Larry Crim was improper because it was not filed against an individual.
Crim sued the state Division of Elections and the Tennessee Democratic Party trying to keep the winner of the August 2 primary, Mark Clayton, off the November ballot.
The day after the election, the state Democratic Party said it wanted nothing to do with Clayton. A statement disavowing his campaign said he is a member of an anti-gay hate group and not a real Democrat because he previously voted in only one party primary.
Crim said the party chairman could have avoided all of this by keeping Clayton off the ballot.
"He had not voted but in one primary election in the Democratic primary preceding the election, and that was for himself in 2008, and the party bylaws say you must have voted in at least three democratic primaries in order to be a bona-fide Democrat on the ballot," said Crim.
The state election coordinator has already said there isn't enough time to hold another primary,
Clayton's name appeared first among seven little-known candidates in the Democratic Senate primary and he got twice the votes of the second-place finisher. Crim came in fourth.
Earlier this week, Clayton appeared with Republican State Senator Stacey Campfield to underscore his Democratic credentials.
Campfield, the sponsor of a bill seeking to bar teaching about gay issues, told reporters on Monday that he had previously tried, but failed, to recruit Clayton to run as a Republican. Campfield said he wasn't endorsing Clayton.
Clayton is vice president of Falls Church, Va.-based Public Advocate of the United States, deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Clayton showed reporters a certificate of appreciation he received from the organization.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)