Gay SBOE member George Clayton blames defeat on sexual orientation, plans write-in campaign

Posted on 13 Jul 2012 at 6:44pm
Clayton.George.Southworth

State Board of Education member George Clayton, right, is shown with his partner of 34 years, Jim Southworth. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

George Clayton, a gay State Board of Education member from Richardson, said his sexual orientation “had a great deal to do with” his defeat in the GOP primary May 29. Clayton, believed to be Texas’ first openly LGBT Republican elected official, also said he’s planning a write-in campaign in November as a last-ditch effort to hang on to his District 12 seat.

In his first public comments since the primary, Clayton lashed out at the two candidates who finished ahead of him, calling one “a bigot” and saying they are both “narrow-minded CINOS, Christians in Name Only.”

Clayton finished third behind Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, who held the seat for decades before Clayton defeated her in the 2010 Republican primary, and tea party candidate Gail Spurlock. Miller and Spurlock will meet in a runoff July 31, and the winner will face Democrat Lois Parrot in November to represent the heavily GOP district that includes all of Collin County.

“I have never yet figured out just exactly what my three opponents could tell me that I’ve done so wrong,” Clayton told the Texas Observer this week, speaking publicly about his primary defeat for the first time. “I am convinced more than ever that my sexual orientation had a great deal to do with it. And I will not permit that to defeat me.”

Clayton, who did not run as an openly LGBT candidate when he wont the seat in 2010, came out as gay in response to a whisper campaign about his sexual orientation led by a conservative group in the district last fall. Clayton would later tell Dallas Voice that his sexual orientation hadn’t come up during the primary campaign, but he told the Observer this week: “It was never blatantly mentioned to me. I can feel it in the air and see it in the faces of the people listening to me talk. I can tell there were some people, these reactionary, uber-conservative types who were just bursting to say something, but they didn’t.”

Clayton didn’t return phone calls seeking comment following the May 29 primary. But he broke his silence this week after he responded to an email from a supporter of Spurlock, blogger Donna Garner, who repeatedly attacked him for being gay during the primary. The Dallas Morning News published the full email exchange between Clayton and Garner.

“Donna, you are as big a fake as Gail [Spurlock],” Clayton wrote to Garner. “Gail has no college degree. She is not teacher certified. She has never taught in the public schools. She is a hard right wing agenda driven bigot. Her zeal for her political/religious agenda is dangeous. She will NOT sit on the SBOE. However, neither will Tincy or Lois.”

In a subsequent email to Garner, Clayton said he was “trashed beyond belief in the primary campaign by Gail, Tincy and other narrow minded CINOS, Christians In Name Only.”

“You are one of them,” Clayton wrote to Garner. “You and Gail carry a Bible in one hand and a bag of stones in the other. If you have not figured it out yet, I will let you in. I plan to continue my campaign as a write in candidate in the November general election. It will be very high profile and, this time, with gloves off. So, you, Gail and that tax dodging Miller crowd just get prepared. Official press releases are prepared and ready to go out soon.  In the meantime, a great deal of organizing with teachers and parents is underway. So you see, it is not over until it is over. I hope you don’t mind my frank talk. It is likely to become brutal.”

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