NEW YORK (Mar. 13)
The Louisiana State Republican Party refrained Saturday from moving to censure state Rep. David Duke, saying such a move would make the avowed white supremacist a martyr.
It was the third time in nine months that the party’s Central Committee had attempted to censure Duke, who is running for U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket despite the lack of party endorsement.
“To censure him is to make a maggot into a martyr,” Ben Bagert, the official Republican candidate for the Senate, told 140 members of the party’s Central Committee in Baton Rouge, La. “Duke must be censured, all right, but the censure must come from below, from the people themselves, not from the party Central Committee.”
The meeting had been called specifically to censure Duke as a racist and anti-Semite. Duke, defeated by Bagert at both the Republican state caucus and party convention, is nonetheless running as a Republican in the Oct. 6 Senate primary.
“Let’s point out the differences at the polls,” Bagert insisted. “Let’s show we’re the party of Reagan, not Adolf Hitler.”
Duke himself declined to attack anyone. “I will speak no evil of my fellow Republicans,” he said. He added that he was “bringing tens of thousands of conservative Democrats into the Republican Party.”
Last year, the American Jewish Committee and the Center for Democratic Renewal released a joint report stating that Duke’s Republican campaign was part of a concerted national strategy of extreme right-wing forces to gain entry into the legitimate political process.
Duke, a former grand wizard of the Imperial Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, ran as a Republican last year for the position of Louisiana state representative. He was elected to a seat from Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans.
Declaring his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, he was soundly defeated at both the Louisiana Republican caucus in December and at the state party convention in January.
Duke’s office number is the same as that of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, a group he founded. He has, at least until very recently, sold racist, anti-Semitic books from the same office.
Alluding to this, Bagert said, “Leave David Duke — with his Nazi books and his programs of hate — leave him to me and the voters of Louisiana.”
Louisiana voters, Bagert said, “will repudiate Duke in October, just as our party did last January and December.”