David Duke steals the show
As if the Republican Party didn’t have enough problems at the national and state levels, along comes their own David Duke to run for the U.S. Senate seat in the Bayou State.
Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and America’s most infamous white supremacist, snatched the headlines from the record number of candidates who qualified last week to replace Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who, after losing the governor’s race, is not seeking a third six-year term.
A record 24 candidates are seeking the open seat – nine Republicans, seven Democrats, two Libertarians, and six Other/No Party. Candidates with a party affiliation had to pony up $900 and unaffiliated candidates had to pay $600 to get their names on the ballot on November 8.
But when the dust settled, who got the most attention from the state and national media? Of course, it was David Duke, who had hinted about running in the 1st Congressional District against Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise.
However, on the last day of qualifying, he decided to go for the big brass ring – the U.S. Senate seat. That news sent the media, some of the candidates, and national and state GOP officials into a frenzy.
The GOP was quick to distance itself from Duke, much as it had done when Donald Trump began to wrestle the party away from its establishment. Trump captured the presidential nomination, but in the process has left the party divided and in disarray nationally.
What affect Duke will have on other Republican candidates in the Senate race remains to be seen. And his national notoriety could also impact the presidential race since he has embraced Trump.
Roger Villere, chairman of he Louisiana Republican Party said, “The Republican Party opposes in the strongest possible terms, David Duke’s candidacy for any public office.” But the fact remains, Duke is one of them, claiming that he created the current Republican Party.
Duke, at age 66, is no longer a spring chicken, but he remains articulate and a lightning rod in politics throughout the country. He will be a thorn in the side of the four GOP candidates considered the most viable – U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming, state Treasurer John Kennedy, and retired Col. Rob Maness – especially those running to the political right.
Duke’s last statewide race was for the U.S. Senate in 1996, finishing fourth with 12% of the vote. In 1999, he ran for the U.S. House in the 1st District and finished third with 19%.
In 2002, Duke was convicted of tax evasion and hasn’t voted since 2000. However, in May of this year, his voting right was restored. A felony conviction does not prohibit one from running for federal office.
Court of Appeal race
It is not often that a veteran sitting judge is challenged for re-election, but that is the case in a race for a seat on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal.
Incumbent Judge Jay Caraway, who has been on the bench for two 10-year terms, is being opposed by Bossier-Webster District Judge Jeff Cox. Both are Republicans.
There are nine judges on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal elected from three election districts in the 20 northernmost parishes of Louisiana. The court is headquartered in Shreveport. Here is the court’s mission statement: “The mission of the appellate courts of Louisiana is to provide meaningful access to all who seek review under the court’s appellate and supervisory jurisdiction granted by the Louisiana Constitution while protecting and promoting the rule of law, preserving the public trust, and using public resources efficiently.”
This election will be held in the 2nd District, Division C, which is comprised of nine parishes – Bienville, Bossier, Caldwell, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Union, Webster, and Winn.
Currently, there are 183,004 registered voters in this judicial subdistrict. Of that total, 69% are white, 28% are black, and 3% are other races. By party affiliation, 39% are Democrats, 36% are Republicans, and 25% are Other/No Party.
Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.