Benjamin Franklin famously said “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Franklin, of course, was unfamiliar with 21st century in Tennessee. If he was, he might have added “political absurdity in Tennessee; to his list of certainties.

In a national election season following a particularly contentious legislative session fraught with socially conservative bills sponsored by the state GOP, Democrats might expect leadership in the state party to devise a solid strategy for winning back not only state legislative seats as well as an effort to identify and vet a challenger to Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker. As the democratic primary neared, the list of possible Corker challengers seemed ... average. A few names people might recognize, Larry Crim for example or actress Park Overall. The state party never coalesced around any of the would be Democratic nominees, however, seeming almost to concede the election. When the votes were tallied, everyone, especially Democratic leadership was in for a big surprise. The Democratic party had chosen a nominee to challenge Senator Corker and that nominee was: Mark Clayton.

Mark Clayton? Huh?

As Tennesseans statewide scratched their heads, more information about the new Democratic nominee was discovered. Information such as his role as a V.P. at Public Advocate, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a hate group due to their vehement stance against pretty much every issue related to marriage equality. Information such as his support of Senator Campfield’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and his belief in the secret formation of not only a New World order but also the secret construction of a 400 wide super highway from Canada to Mexico. Seriously.

Needless to say, the party’s nomination of such a radical, um, candidate, left the Democratic leadership with a bit of egg on their face and a serious PR problem. The party has been roundly criticized in the last several years for a lack of real leadership during a period where the state legislature grows more conservative. Many democratic voters are growing frustrated and have decided to take things into their own hands.

“I’m not Clayton or Corker”

Enter write-in Democratic candidate Jacob Maurer, democrat from Nashville: Teacher, write-in candidate and author of the best slogan of this political season.

“The state party has not pushed for candidates that represent the left,” Maurer said. “They fell asleep at the wheel during the primary by not being actively involved in campaigning for candidates who can represent us and appeal to liberal voters.”

Maurer is a political outsider. He grew up in Decatur, Ala. and graduated from the University of Alabama, Birmingham with a degree in music. After teaching for several years in Alabama, he moved to Nashville and currently serves as Hillwood High’s band director. Although always interested in politics and history, what drew him into this race “was the complete lack of any candidate who would represent my voice or the voices of the many in Tennessee who consider themselves liberal.”

As a teacher, Maurer brings a real world understanding of what he feels requires the most focus at both the state and national level: education. While current democrat nominee Mark Clayton defends his involvement with groups pushing social conservatism and Corker wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Maurer has set his sights on education.

“Being an educator, I would continue to focus on educational issues,” Maurer said. “Tennessee has many brilliant students who deserve a quality and well-funded education. We need to work to make our schools the model of the nation and not settle for anything less.”

Like most every Tennessean, Maurer wants to see improvement in the economy overall, and specifically in Tennessee. However, his path to economical growth in Tennessee, is different than Clayton. Maurer believes economical development and success is tied to making our state an attractive location for companies. Having a strong successful educational system in place is a big part of that. Being an inclusive state that promotes equality is another big part.

“Being a strong supporter of gay marriage, I would strongly push and fight for marriage equality,” Maurer said. “We can improve the economy in Tennessee by making our state attractive to national and international corporations. By having a strong educational system and social equality, we can attract progressive companies to relocate to Tennessee.”

In the last year, Tennessee has often found itself the butt of late night comedians’ jokes, often seeming behind the times, and sliding down what’s likely to be the wrong side of history. Maurer doesn’t think it has to be that way.

“We need a senator who will show the country that Tennessee can and will move in a progressive direction,” opines would-be Senator Maurer. “Like it or not, the country is becoming more socially accepting. Clayton and Corker do not believe in social equality. The beliefs and ideas that Clayton have posted online are very extreme and out-of-touch with the people of Tennessee. I firmly believe the vast majority of the people who voted for him in the primary did not know who he was or what he stood for.”

Being a write-in candidate is very rarely a winning proposition and Maurer is certainly a realist. He is not measuring for drapes for his senate office or preparing for a career outside of his band room. He is, however, hoping that a few Tennesseans who feel disenfranchised from the political process will consider writing his name on their ballot. He is definitely hoping that a number of Democrats who feel their voices are not being heard will see in him someone who is interested in solutions, not rhetoric; an outsider who wants to bring positive change to a political system that seems broken.

That is, after all, exactly what Franklin and the other founding fathers had in mind.

For anyone looking to learn more about his campaign or how to get involved, visit or

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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