Wednesday 7 December 2016

Former KKK leader and 'Donald' backer Duke announces run for US senate

Melinda Deslatte

Published 23/07/2016 | 02:30

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke pictured in 2004 AP Photo/Burt Steel, File
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke pictured in 2004 AP Photo/Burt Steel, File

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, an avowed white supremacist, officially signed up yesterday to run for the US senate in Louisiana.

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"I'm proud to announce my candidacy for the United States senate," Mr Duke said in a video before he signed qualifying papers.

"I believe in equal rights for all and respect for all Americans. However, what makes me different is I also demand respect for the rights and heritage of European Americans."

Mr Duke's candidacy comes as the state is grappling with deep racial tensions after the fatal shooting of a black man by white police officers and the killing of three law enforcement officers by a black man.

It also comes one day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination for president. Mr Duke said: "I'm overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I've championed for years. My slogan remains America first."

A registered Republican, Mr Duke is seeking an open seat vacated by Republican David Vitter. Nearly two dozen candidates have signed up for the senate race. The seat is open because Mr Vitter decided not to seek re-election on the November 8 ballot.

Republicans at the state and federal level quickly denounced Mr Duke's bid.

Roger Villere, chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana, said the party "will play an active role in opposing" him.

"The Republican Party opposes, in the strongest possible terms, David Duke's candidacy for any public office. David Duke is a convicted felon and a hate-filled fraud who does not embody the values of the Republican Party," Mr Villere said.

Ward Baker, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Louisiana voters had several GOP candidates "who will have a great impact on the Bayou State and the future of our country".

"David Duke is not one of them. He will not have the support of the NRSC under any circumstance," Mr Baker added.

Mr Duke is a former state representative who represented suburban New Orleans for one term more than two decades ago and was an unsuccessful candidate for congress.

In a posting on his website, Mr Duke said he'd been "urged by enormous numbers of people" in his district to run for the United States senate.

"With the country coming apart at the seams and no one willing to really speak the truth about what is happening, the majority population in this country needs someone who will actually give voice to their interests in the face of an increasingly violent hatefest launched by the media and political establishment against them," Mr Duke's website says.

Mr Duke, a convicted criminal, pleaded guilty in 2002 to bilking his supporters and cheating on his taxes.

He spent a year in federal prison, but later denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has said the United States had no knowledge or involvement in the failed coup attempt in Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday accused followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of mocking the Turkish people. The Turkish government has accused Mr Gulen of being behind the uprising but he has strongly denied any knowledge of the attempted military coup.

Mr Obama said that any reports that the United States had previous knowledge of the coup attempt or had been anything other than supportive of Turkey's government were "unequivocally false".

He added that he said that to Mr Erdogan in a phone conversation this week.

Irish Independent

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