Pastor Gerry Claytor agreed to appear in an ad aimed at African-American voters, urging them to split their tickets on Nov. 6 for Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon. “I’m voting for President Obama. And I’m voting for Linda McMahon. It’s my choice,” Claytor declares in the ad. “Linda McMahon wasn’t always rich. She went through struggle. She has a passion.”
Claytor, a Bridgeport-based Pentecostal minister who goes by the title “Prophetess,” spoke with the Independent about her reasons for appearing in the ad. Read on for excerpts of the conversation; click on the play arrow to watch the ad.
Why are you supporting Linda McMahon for Senate?
I like Linda McMahon, I’m a black African-American woman from the deep south, South Carolina. This was a whole new world to me. I’m a community leader.
I like strong women. I want to see more women in political seats. That’s one reason I like Linda McMahon.
And I like her agenda. I like her plan.
What do you like about it?
I don’t see anything wrong with what she’s saying. Most people are using her for a scapegoat. Social security’s not going to be cut.
What in the plan do you like?
I’m not really into that. I really like—I saw she wants to bring more jobs to Connecticut. Can’t hurt none. They all say things. They all say things. They say lots of things. When they get in office, they don’t do them.
She will have to. There’s so much pressure on her. She’s going to make some change.
Education is a big issue for you. Is it for her too?
Did she help with you the rally last year?
She didn’t come. To my personal one? She didn’t come.
No. In 2007 I have a food pantry. I feed the people in PT Barnum, the poorest, largest project now in the city of Bridgeport. I feed those people. I have no sustaining income. And they eat very well. Before I had that food pantry, in 2007 I was working for 15 years at the Board of Education, from 1992 to 2007, as a parent liaison. One of the things I did at random, I just decided the kids had no coats or gloves. I’m just going to write some people and ask for coats. I looked at some businesses [in a regional directory book]. WWE responded. They said, ‘We’re going to do your coat drive.’ They filled up [trucks] at their headquarters in Stamford. That was 2007. I didn’t meet [McMahon] then.
In 2009 she came to—I have turkey day, I gave food to people in the community. She came. If you pull up her 2009 or 2010, you’ll see her at my church, an hour and a half and two hours. She gave me $500 for turkeys.
How did it come about that you appeared in this commercial?
Because I was asked. I said OK. I went to the Holiday Inn. There were other people there, people from Washington D.C. That’s how I got on the commercial.
Were participants paid?
No, no, no. I didn’t get paid any money for anything. No, no, no.
What’s the difference between a “prophetess” and a “reverend”?
“Prophetess” was in the Bible: Deborah. Rahab. It’s a more intense work. You take on a more intense work.