Add to the growing list of candidates considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 America’s most famous white-power advocate: David Duke.
A former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and Republican executive-committee chairman in his district until 2000, Duke has a significant following online. His videos go viral. This month, he’s launching a tour of 25 states to explore how much support he can garner for a potential presidential bid. He hasn’t considered running for serious office since the early ’90s, when he won nearly 40 percent of the vote in his bid for Louisiana governor. But like many “white civil rights advocates,” as he describes himself to The Daily Beast, 2012 is already shaping up to be a pivotal year.
Former (and current) Neo Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Confederates, and other representatives of the many wings of the “white nationalist” movement are starting to file paperwork and print campaign literature for offices large and small, pointing to rising unemployment, four years with an African-American president, and rampant illegal immigration as part of a growing mound of evidence that white people need to take a stand.
Potok’s group tracked 23 candidates in 2010 with radical right-wing views, nine of whom they described as white supremacists or white nationalists. (The others had extreme immigration and world-conspiracy views but did not specifically have links to white organizations.) One candidate, the neo-Confederate Loy Mauch, won a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives, and another, James C. Russell, who has denounced interracial marriage, garnered 37 percent of the vote in his quest for the New York House of Representatives. Some candidates benefited from a new umbrella organization–the A3P, or American Third Position–which was launched in 2010 by a handful of wonkish-looking professors and corporate lawyers to, as they wrote in their mission statement, “represent the political interests of White Americans.” One of their political hopefuls, Atlee Yarrow, who has filed paperwork to run for Florida governor in 2014, says the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed A3P as a hate group “but it has open membership that mirrors the NAACP. They can have identity politics, but if white people do, it’s considered racist.”
A Duke candidacy could have a galvanizing effect. He has been living in Europe in recent years, but maintains a high profile–and stokes his fan base–online. Duke says there is nothing wrong with a white political bloc. “I have no hatred of anyone,” Duke says. “Just a love of my heritage and values.”