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Losing U.S. Senate candidate sues Democratic Party for saying he belonged to anti-gay hate group

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mark Clayton, who won the Democratic candidacy for U.S. Senate in 2012 only to be disavowed by the party, is suing.

According to The Tennessean, Clayton filed a lawsuit this week in Davidson County Circuit Court against the Tennessee Democratic Party and dozens of party officials.

After Clayton won the nomination by a landslide, party officials distance themselves from him, saying Clayton belonged to an anti-gay hate group, and urged voters in the write in any other name in the general election.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Corker easily won the November election.

The lawsuit says party leaders made false and misleading statements about Clayton and forcibly removed him from the party's Nashville headquarters. He wants them fined $500 each and seeks court costs and attorney fees.

Gerard Stranch, an attorney for the Tennessee Democratic Party, said the suit "is clearly without merit." Stranch said the party would file a motion to dismiss it.

In an interview last year, Clayton said he asked voters around the country how they viewed gay marriage for the group Public Advocate of the United States.

He appeared in a YouTube video, there is a clip of Clayton asking Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in 2011, "Hey, Mr. Mayor, do you wear a dress?"

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