Tennessee GOP Lawmaker Behind 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Loses Primary Election

FILE - In an April 25, 2012 file photo, Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, speaks to reporters outside the Senate chamber in
FILE - In an April 25, 2012 file photo, Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, speaks to reporters outside the Senate chamber in Nashville, Tenn. Opponents of a proposal by Campfield that would require schools to inform a student's parents if the child is engaging in homosexual activity say the legislation is unnecessary and an example of government intrusion in family matters. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, File)

WASHINGTON -- One of Tennessee's most controversial state lawmakers, known for pushing anti-gay legislation and making remarks that made even members of his own party cringe, lost his primary battle on Thursday.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R) was soundly defeated in the state's District 7, getting only 28 percent of the vote. Cardiac surgeon Richard Briggs won the primary with 66 percent.

"This exceeded expectations," Briggs said after his win, according to the Associated Press. "We thought we were in a good position to win, but we're absolutely elated we did much better than we thought."

Campfield, who was first elected in 2010, has gained notoriety since then by making incendiary remarks and sponsoring controversial bills.

In May, he said the Obama administration bragging about how many people signed up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act was like the Nazis touting how many Jews were shipped to concentration camps. The state GOP quickly distanced itself from those remarks.

Campfield came under heavy criticism in 2012 for his inaccurate comments about the origins of AIDS in an interview on SiriusXM OutQ with host Michelangelo Signorile, who is also the editor-at-large of HuffPost Gay Voices.

"Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community -- it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall," he said.

But Campfield became most widely known for sponsoring legislation in 2011 that was referred to as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would have made it illegal for teachers to discuss homosexuality with students in kindergarten through the eighth grade. Campfield has repeatedly attempted to pass the legislation, but it has not become law.

In 2013, he put forward a widely criticized bill that would have reduced welfare assistance for families if their children did not do well in school. Campfield also is behind a new law requiring the state to drug-test applicants for public benefits.

Thursday night, Campfield put up a post on his personal blog titled, "That was fun," with a video of Frank Sinatra singing "My Way."

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