Former Ku Klux Klan Leader Duke Runs for U.S. Senate in Louisiana

Bryn Stole, Reuters, July 22, 2016

David Duke, a former leader of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan, launched his candidacy on Friday for the U.S. Senate from Louisiana, saying white people are threatened in America and that he hears echoes of his views in Donald Trump’s rhetoric.

Duke, a Republican, is a former Louisiana state legislator and unsuccessful candidate for governor who served a 15-month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2002 to felony charges of tax evasion and mail fraud.

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At a news conference in Baton Rouge after officially filing as a candidate to succeed outgoing Republican Senator David Vitter, Duke, 66, said he watched Trump’s speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday in Cleveland and heard echoes of his own past political platforms.

“I don’t really care what Donald Trump says about me. I respect what he’s doing,” Duke said.

In an online video announcing his candidacy, Duke also said, “I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years.”

In his video, Duke said he believes in equal rights and respect for all Americans but “what makes me different is I also demand respect for the rights and heritage of European-Americans.”

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In his comments to reporters, Duke called the Black Lives Matter protest movement that arose after a series of killings of black men by police in various U.S. cities a “terrorist group.”

Duke said that “European-Americans” need a politician to fight for their interests and that white people are threatened in the United States. {snip}

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Duke’s announcement drew and swift and scathing condemnation from Republican leaders and others. The Republican Party of Louisiana called Duke a “felon and hate-filled fraud” who does not embody Republican values.

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Louisiana does not hold party primaries. Instead, candidates from all parties are placed on the same ballot. If no one wins a simple majority in the Nov. 8 election, the top two vote-getters enter a runoff.

Duke used this system to his advantage when he ran for governor in 1991 and made it to a runoff against former Governor Edwin Edwards, who had left office under a cloud of controversy for misconduct in office.

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