Democratic Party’s Disavowal of Clayton Didn’t Work

Voters in heavily Democratic Memphis and Nashville didn’t necessarily get the memo about U.S. Senate candidate Mark Clayton being disavowed by the Democratic party, observes Michael Cass.
Clayton won Shelby County, home of Memphis, by more than 28,000 votes over Bob Corker, the Republican incumbent. He racked up 105,432 votes in Davidson County, losing to Corker by fewer than 6,000 votes.
Some observers said Clayton, who was working for a moving company at the time of his primary victory, was an unknown quantity to most voters. They said he benefited from Democratic turnout for President Barack Obama, who lost the state to Republican Mitt Romney by 20 percentage points but easily carried Davidson and Shelby counties.
“Don’t read anything else into it,” said Van Turner, chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party for the past three years and an attorney in Memphis. “Shelby County is a yellow-dog Democratic county. We’re going to support the Democrat in most instances.”
John Geer, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, said many voters had “never heard of Clayton one way or the other.”
Geer said there also were Democrats who couldn’t bring themselves to push the button for Corker, “even though he obviously was in some sense probably even more representative of Democratic views than Clayton.
“You have two of the most Democratic counties,” Geer said. “It’s no surprise.”

See also Wendi C. Thomas’ column on Clayton:
Wasn’t it the party’s job to give Democrats their marching orders: Write in Big Bird if you want, but don’t vote for Clayton?
Not necessarily, asserted Forrester, who wrote in actor Ashley Judd, a faithful Democrat.
“There’s another way of looking at it — voters have a responsibility to educate themselves about candidates,” said Forrester, who isn’t seeking a third term as chairman.
“Obviously, people did not do their homework.”
Good try, but that (yellow) dog won’t hunt.
“That’s a good way for him to try to pin the blame on someone else, but he’s the head of the party, and the bucks stops there,” said Susan Adler Thorp, a political consultant and former political columnist for The Commercial Appeal.
“In politics, you can’t assume that someone else knows something.”

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