NASHVILLE, August 7, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) –  The Democratic Party of Tennessee is taking the unusual step of urging citizens to vote against its own nominee for U.S. Senate, because he works for a pro-life organization it deems a “hate group.”

Mark Clayton won the party’s primary by a two-to-one margin over his next closest competitor, Gary Gene Davis. Former NBC Empty Nest star Park Overall came in third.

Clayton has long been active with Public Advocate, a national pro-life, pro-family organization.

“Mark Clayton is associated with a known hate group in Washington, D.C.,” the Tennessee Democratic Party claimed in a statement, “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.”

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Public Advocate has been listed as an “anti-gay hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that has built an elaborate fundraising empire lobbing controversial charges that mainstream Christian ministries are motivated by hatred.

“If Public Advocate is a hate group, then the state of Tennessee is a hate group, because it’s in our constitution that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Clayton said

State party leaders have found themselves at a loss to explain how an outspoken supporter of traditional values could be nominated when the national Democratic Party is about to affirm same-sex “marriage” in its platform.

“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,” the state party’s press release stated. 

Eugene Delgaudio, the president of Public Advocate, said, “The liberal crybabies who whine about Mark Clayton’s total and complete Democratic victory refuse to accept blame for their own failed policies that drove Mark Clayton to a crushing electoral victory.” He added that Clayton has opposed every Republican candidate for president in his lifetime.

“It also will not help promote democracy in the world when Democratic Party leaders attack the people of Tennessee as stupid for voting for Mark Clayton,” Delgaudio said.

The Tennessee Democratic Party raised the possibility of a legal challenge. “The results of the election have not been certified, so Mark Clayton has not been ‘duly elected’ or nominated to anything yet.”

One of his opponents, Larry Crim, is now demanding a new new primary without Clayton. In such a primary, Crim’s name would appear first on the ballot in alphabetical order. 

Political observers were clearly surprised by the emergence of a conservative Democrat.

South Carolina Democrats faced a similar situation in 2008, when Bob Conley won the state primary to face U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. Conley, who describes himself as a “Ron Paul Democrat,” supports the right to life, traditional marriage, repealing the Federal Reserve Act, and slashing the size and scope of government.

Pro-lifers running in Democratic primaries have scored surprising upsets, including Randall Terry’s upset defeat of Barack Obama in 14 counties in Oklahoma.

Clayton’s surprise finish has filled online proponents of life and liberty with hope.

“The revolution cannot be stopped. As you can see, it is not only Ron Paul Republicans who care deeply about Due Process, Declaration of War, auditing the Federal Reserve, ending torture, bringing the troops home, transparency and the Rule of Law,” wrote one supporter. “The Ron Paul Democrats are out in force too, infuriated with Obama’s continuation and expansion of Bush programs, like torture, undeclared military campaigns, covering up for the banks, warrant-less spying, and the lobbyists in powerful positions such as Czars and other cabinet positions.” 

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney issued a statement supporting all those who win the GOP primaries. “Tennesseans want more conservative leadership and that’s exactly what Republican candidates across the state are offering,” he said.