Democrat maintains optimism in US Senate race

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Mark Clayton's biggest strength as the candidate who won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker next month might be that he's an optimist.

Despite being disavowed by the Democratic Party for his role in an anti-gay hate group and not raising enough money to meet the Federal Election Commission's reporting limit of $5,000, Clayton insists he has a real chance of defeating Corker, whose recent FEC figures show he has raised $11.5 million and has more than $6 million on hand.

When asked why he's optimistic, Clayton recently told The Associated Press: "Money does not necessarily mean votes."

He says he plans to reach enough voters to be competitive with Corker.

Two other candidates will be on the ballot for the Senate seat: Martin Pleasant of the Green Party and Kermit Steck of the Constitution Party.

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