White supremacist, anti-Semite, felon and perennial candidate David Duke qualified this morning to run in the fall U.S. Senate race to replace David Vitter.
Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, won a special election in 1989 to represent District 81 in the state House of Representatives, a seat which he held for three years. Since then, he has mounted several unsuccessful but attention-garnering campaigns for U.S. Senate, along with a bid for president in 1992. His closest brush with attaining higher office came in his run against disgraced Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1991, a race which spawned the slogan "Vote for the Crook: It's Important."
In an announcement this morning, a message on Duke's website stated, "With his prior electoral victories in Louisiana and the crowded, wide-open field, there is every reason to expect that Dr. Duke will have the same kind of success in his senate campaign the Donald Trump is having in the presidential race."
In 2002, Duke pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. Since then, he's traveled the world, appeared on Internet radio shows, established an active YouTube channel and sought donations from followers to "oppose the evil plans of the Jewish Supremacists."
Duke has been a member of several political parties, including the American Nazi Party, the Democratic Party, the Reform Party and most recently the Republican Party. Roger Villere, head of the Republican Party of Louisiana, issued a statement this morning condemning Duke's run:
“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. The Party of Lincoln and Reagan is one that recognizes the inherent value of every human life, regardless of age, religion or race. David Duke’s history of hate marks a dark stain on Louisiana’s past and has no place in our current conversation. The Republican Party of Louisiana will play an active role in opposing David Duke's candidacy.”
Duke joins a crowded field of what is now 23 qualified candidates for the Senate race. Qualifying concludes this afternoon.