NASHVILLE – A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court today asks that the election of Mark Clayton as Democratic nominee to the U.S. Senate be voided because of “fraudulent acts” by state Democratic Party officials.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Larry Crim, one of the losing candidates in the Aug. 2 primary, says state Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester and other party officials knew that Clayton was not a “bona fide Democrat” but nonetheless took no steps to keep his name off the ballot, “thereby knowingly misleading” voters.
A spokeswoman for Mike Rowan, Crim’s attorney, says Judge Kevin Sharp is expected to hold a hearing promptly on whether to grant a request for a temporary injunction against certifying unofficial results of the election pending a full hearing on issues raised.
A hearing on the temporary injunction request was scheduled for Thursday.
“It appears to be a frivolous lawsuit,” said Brandon Puttbrese, spokesman for the state Democratic party.. Further comment for now, he said, would be left to party attorneys at Thursday’s hearing.
A draft copy of the lawsuit argues, in essence, that Forrester and other officials favored Park Overall in the Democratic primary wanted Clayton’s name on the ballot – listed first in alphabetical order – to draw votes from Crim, listed second alphabetically, in hopes that Overall would win the primary.
The state Democratic party disavowed Clayton a day after the primary, contending he was associated with “extremist” causes and a member an “anti-gay hate group.” Clayton is vice president of Public Advocate of the United States.
The lawsuit calls for a new Democratic U.S. Senate primary to be held by Sept. 15. State Election Coordinator Mark Goins, in a letter to Crim and his lawyer earlier, said there’s no provision for a new election in state law and that holding one would be virtually impossible because of other time deadlines built into state law.
Candidate Gary Davis finished second in the Aug. 2 unofficial results. Overall finished third in the voting and Crim fourth in the seven-candidate field.
— Note: A draft copy of the lawsuit is available by clicking on this link: CrimSenatePetition.pdf
The Tennessee Democratic Party “beat every bush” on Music Row and in other entertainment industry centers as it tried in vain to come up with a Volunteer State celebrity to run for U.S. Senate against well-funded incumbent Bob Corker this year, The Tennessean reports. But the party passed on an opportunity to tell voters about a candidate with views that ran counter to Democratic doctrine, leaving it vulnerable to embarrassment in a wide-open primary election.
….Gary Gene Davis, who finished a distant second to Clayton in the primary, said Democratic Party officials already knew what Clayton stood for after he ran for Senate in 2008 and pulled in 32,309 votes to finish fourth. Bob Tuke won that primary with 59,050 votes, beating Davis by about 20,000 votes before losing to Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander in the general election.
Davis said party activists in Shelby County told him that Chip Forrester, the state party’s chairman, had openly endorsed actress and environmental activist Park Overall, describing her to them as “our candidate.” He said Forrester should have worked harder to tell voters about Clayton’s beliefs, which, according to his campaign website, include the need to “defend Tennesseans from the North American Union, National ID cards, illegal trade deals like NAFTA, radical homosexual lobbying groups who want to get in the Boy Scouts and terrorists who are hiding in the Army.”
…Spokesman Brandon Puttbrese said the party was “agnostic” in the primary, although Overall was given a speaking slot at the annual Jackson Day dinner and was the only one of the seven candidates who took the party up on its offer to help with news releases, talking points and social media.
He said it would have made little sense to talk about Clayton, “pretty much a fringe candidate to anybody.”
“You don’t push around someone’s name that you don’t want to get elected,” he said. “We could never have anticipated it would have ended this way.”
Although he declined to identify any targets, Puttbrese said officials tried to recruit any Tennessee resident they could find with enough name recognition to give Corker a battle.
“Tons of calls were made to legitimate politicians and other high-profile Tennesseans,” Puttbrese said Monday. “We beat every bush and left no stone unturned with people who had already made a name for themselves.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Actress Park Overall says she’s always had an interest in politics so she’s mounting a bid to be the Democrat who takes the longshot chance at unseating Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.
“I believe in food stamps, I believe in the poor, I believe in welfare,” said Overall, who starred in the popular television series “Empty Nest” in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“As you can see, I have no chance of winning this election,” she said with a laugh.
Overall is one of seven candidates on the Democratic ballot for the Aug. 2 primary. Corker is being challenged by four Republicans in the GOP primary.
None of the nearly dozen challengers comes anywhere close to Corker’s fundraising prowess. Only two –Republicans Brenda Lenard and Zach Poskevich– have raised more than $40,000, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Corker has raised about $11 million and has roughly $7.4 million on hand.
A Democrat challenging U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says she’s still campaigning despite a week-old internal memo describing her as “extremely ill.” Chris Carroll reports: Park Overall, the actress and environmental activist best known for playing nurse Laverne Todd in the NBC sitcom “Empty Nest,” confirmed Monday that an inner ear infection and diabetes have sidelined her for three weeks.
Overall, 55, described the inner ear infection as a chronic problem she “was putting off.” She said political travel and a longtime bout with Type 1 diabetes worsened the dizziness, fatigue and other symptoms she was feeling.
“I called the Democrats and I said, ‘I’m too unwell to continue, take me off the ballot,'” the Greeneville, Tenn., resident said in a phone interview. “They said that wasn’t possible, so that settled that.”
Overall then decided on surgery.
“They operated on my eardrum Thursday, and I’m on the mend,” she said. “We weren’t sure it would even work, but it seems to be.”
Overall’s last campaign event was June 2, and her latest activity on Twitter came two weeks ago. Several planned appearances in Chattanooga and Bradley County have not materialized.
A top aide offered some explanation to state and local party officials in a June 8 email obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
“Her campaign has been suspended and she is extremely ill,” campaign spokesman Marvin Cranfield wrote.
Overall on Monday characterized her illness as “temporary.” She said she would resume her senatorial bid next week after some rest and recovery.
U.S. Senate candidate Brenda Lenard said Wednesday that she has been urged to leave the race and endorse another of incumbent Sen. Bob Corker’s opponents in the Republican primary because of a bad check conviction and bankruptcies in her background.
Lenard, a Tea Party activist and single mother working on a doctorate in political science at the University of Tennessee, said she will “absolutely not” do so and believes that her life experiences – including the 1990s financial problems – make her a better person and a better candidate.
“There is not one thing in my past or even now that I’m ashamed of,” said Lenard, 45, of Sweetwater. “Life is tough and sometimes you have to roll with the punches.”
From the Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney released the following statement on President Obama’s gay marriage decision – “After playing politics for years with the issue of same-sex marriage, President Obama has finally made his true position known. The majority of Tennesseans do not support the president on this issue and I’m curious if Tennessee Democrats will stand by their president on this one.”
— From the Park Overall for Senate campaign:
Greeneville, Tenn. — Park Overall, an environmental advocate and actress running for U.S. Senate, issued the following statement in support of President Barack Obama’s views on marriage equality: “The 14th Amendment calls for equal rights under the law. I can’t imagine how the fear of same-sex couples has trumped the Constitution for this long. As for President Obama saying he’s for gay marriage, all I can say is, hallelujah and what took so long? For committed, loving couples to be denied the rights of heterosexual couples is prejudicial. I am thrilled my President has taken this highly evolved stance and continues to push the rock uphill. May we continue to strive for the rights of all men and women.”
While mulling over her political ambitions a year ago, Park Overall, the Greeneville, Tenn., resident who’s now challenging Bob Corker for his seat in the United States Senate, got an offer to do the independent film “In The Family.” She tells the News Sentinel the role was exactly the sort of project she’s always wanted to do. “This one is special,” she says. “This is the best movie I could ever hope to be in. This is the kind of movie I dreamed of going to Hollywood and making.”
“Family” casts Overall as the mother whose gay son has died, leaving a complex legal issue involving his underage son, the late son’s partner and the late son’s sister. The sister and partner both want custody of the boy.
…Mulling over whether actors make for good politicians, Overall says the two share “an affinity for performance as well as language,” allowing them to communicate their agendas easier to the public.
And her profile as a network star — albeit from 15 years ago — helped. “The TV history gives me a head start,” she says. “Sad, but true.”
Her basic platform, from this early part of her campaign, leans toward helping the disenfranchised and the environment. She is also pro-union and pro-gay.
One of her biggest hurdles will be the primary in August.
A registered Democrat, Overall prefers to call herself “progressive” and admits her official political affiliation might not sit well in conservative, Republican-heavy East Tennessee.—
“Nurse Laverne is running for the U.S. Senate.” That’s the first line in a Robert Houk column on the Greeneville native and environmental activist turned Senate candidate.
The quote was from an Internet headline. The rest of the column includes a lot of comments from Park Overall, who as an actress played Laverne, the “sassy, down-home nurse on the 1980s sitcom “Empty Nest.” Overall’s candidacy offers the Senate race a bit of star power that it would definitely lack otherwise….
Overall is the first to say she was heavily recruited by state party officials to make this race. She is a plain-speaking, down-to-earth person who knows how to use humor to make important points. I wonder if that will help or hurt her on the campaign trail. Quite frankly, many voters don’t want to hear their candidates speak the truth. They would rather be peppered with platitudes and catchphrases from their politicians than hear honest positions on complicated issues.
“I was motivated to do this only because the Nashville Democrats kept asking me to, and then I began to worry that no one else would do it for the party,” Overall told me by email last week. “I felt somebody had to do it. Bob Corker is a corporate operative. I must do what I can to curtail this heinous and destructive movement.”
Her campaign platform is very simple.
“I am for unions, in a big way,” she told me. “I am for women and children in a big way. Veterans also have a very big place in my heart.”
Overall says she is worried about the future of the poor and the middle class of this nation, and plans to talk about that on the campaign trail, as well as other difficult things that candidates don’t normally like to discuss on the stump. That includes child abuse and women’s issues.
“Why is my womb attached to a transportation bill?,” she asked recently in a Jackson Day speech in Nashville.
She says she is not hearing “the truth” from political leaders in Washington or Nashville, and she vows to make her campaign about conversations, not confrontations.
“I feel the hate all around me, and I want to do what I can to stop it,” Overall said last week. “I hope to influence a more positive use of the language. A more civil and substantive discourse must be returned to us as a nation.”
…She also noted that she would not be able to compete with millionaire Corker’s fabulous $7.5 million campaign war chest. Instead, Overall said she will be “banking on the people, unions and the truth” to carry her message to voters.
“One Facebook friend sent me $5, once a month, for six months and I burst into tears,” Overall said. “What a lovely woman to do that for me.”
U.S. Senate candidate Park Overall, an actress from Greeneville, was among the speakers at an East Tennessee’ Democratic rally in Knoxville Friday night, reports Matt Lakin. “They are scared of you guys,” state Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, told a crowd of about 100 people outside the Knox County Democratic Party headquarters on Morgan Street. “We used to call them RATs — Republicans against teachers. This year we call them RAWs — Republicans against women. The Democratic Party is back, and we’re back strong.”
Armstrong and others said they expect a backlash at the ballot box this year against such state Republican initiatives as the weakening of teacher tenure, attempts to increase class sizes and proposed restrictions on abortion rights.
Greeneville native and actress Park Overall, who’s running for U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Bob Corker of Chattanooga, said the divisive political climate inspired her to seek office. Overall, best known for her role on the NBC sitcom “Empty Nest” in the 1980s and 1990s, accused Corker of favoring corporations and the rich over working families.
“I’m sure he’s a lovely man, but he has voted for things I’m profoundly against and profoundly shocked by,” she said. “He votes with corporations all the time. I’m looking for union donors. I’m not looking for corporate donors. I’m not buyable, and I can’t be held accountable by a corporation.”
Overall also criticized Republicans in the state Legislature for such recent proposals as state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s so-called “don’t say gay” bill.
“The problem with the Democrats is we’re honest, we’re kind, and we’re all-inclusive,” she told the crowd. “If you’re a really conservative person, you do not want to vote for me because I’m for transgenders, I’m for gay marriage, I’m for (the) poor, I’m for black(s), I’m for Asian(s), I’m for the disenfranchised, and my household always was.”
Republicans have traditionally dominated politics in East Tennessee since the Civil War, but some of the candidates said they think that’s open to change.
“This is a moderate district,” said Bill Taylor of Chattanooga, who’s running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah. “People vote for the person more than for the party.”
Greeneville-based actress and nuclear power critic Park Overall has thrown her hat into the ring for the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee.
Overall, 55, formally filed papers to run on the Democratic ticket for the office Wednesday in Nashville at the state Board of Elections.
“I have officially filed to run against [Republican incumbent] Bob Corker for the U.S. Senate,” Overall told The Greeneville Sun this morning. “Somebody had to do it and if nobody else will do it, I will do it.”
….Overall told the Sun she is looking for a campaign manager as she gears up for a serious run at the office.
“I’m a good Democrat and there doesn’t seem to be one around. I’m going for broke,” she said.
Overall said she will focus on women’s issues and the environment in her campaign.
Overall is an outspoken critic of nuclear power, and has frequently spoken at hearings and public meetings associated with the operation of the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Unicoi County.
Overall said she received a favorable response about her candidacy Saturday from a crowd of 700 at the Jackson Day event in Nashville.
She characterized herself as an “all-inclusive” candidate who will “tell it like it is.”
“It’s the hatred and the rhetoric. Why can’t anybody tell the truth? I’m going to tell the truth,” Overall said.
An official announcement will be made this week, Overall said.
“I will start low, build slow, strike fire and leave the stage,” she said.