Monday, September 03, 2012

Tennessee U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

Tennessee U.S. Senate

September 3, 2012
64 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2008 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Safe Republican

Tennessee is know as the Volunteer State and Democrats there this year are volunteering to skip trying to win a U.S. Senate seat, as the winner of the August primary and duly elected nominee of the party has been formally denounced and disavowed.

Six years ago, Tennessee produced the only positive Senate news in the entire country for Republicans as Bob Corker was the only non-incumbent to win a seat in the legislative body. He had a tough race against a strong opponent, but the increasingly GOP leaning nature of the state allowed him to capture a victory, even as Republicans narrowly surrendered control of the Senate. Corker has long been considered a heavy favorite to win a second term, but even he did not expect circumstances to unfold as they have.

Scant attention had been paid to the Democrats seeking the party's nomination this year. The field was crowded, but none of the contenders seemed even close to second tier status and none had any electoral success to speak of. The best known candidate might have been liberal former actress Park Overall, who used to play a recurring role in a Golden Girls sitcom spinoff.

The low turnout primary though produced as a surprise result, as the winner, with 30 percent of the vote, and nearly twice as many as his nearest opponent was Mark Clayton. This was not the NFL Wide Receiver, although voters might have liked the way his name, which appeared first on the crowded ballot, sounded, without knowing anything about him. This Mark Clayton is a person who is an activist in the group that goes by the name of Public Advocate of the United States, but a group that critics say is merely a far right-wing hate organization, especially as it relates to anti-gay views.

Immediately after the primary, Democrats nationally and in the state disavowed Clayton's nomination and said that people in Tennessee should proceed to write in a candidate of their choice in the November election against Corker. Clayton has denied he is an extremist and has vowed not to get out of the race. This is the latest of a series of a few instances in southern states during recent cycles of Democrats nominating little known Senate candidates that they considered to be unsupportable. Efforts to remove Clayton from the ballot have been unsuccessful and there does not appear to be any coordinated effort underway to support a particular write-in candidate for the general election. One has to perhaps wonder why the party did not do more to educate voters about Clayton's true identity and beliefs before the primary. Either they completely discounted the possibility he could win the nomination or were guilty of gross negligence.

Many Republicans in Missouri think they have a horrible situation in the Senate race with Todd Akin as the candidate, but the circumstances for Democrats in Tennessee are a lot worse, although they were not really counting on wining this seat anyway. The Republican incumbent and his supporters are going to have significantly less stress than they were facing in 2006.

Corker campaign link:

2012 U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 15 D, 10 R
Predicted U.S. Senate Balance of Power thus far: 45 D, 47 R