Duke and His Followers Disrupt Louisiana Republican Convention

David duke the former Ku Klux Klan leader who has subverted Louisiana politics with his mixture of white-supremacist convictions and populist oratory, make a mockery of the state Republican convention on Saturday, which had been convened to choose a gubernatorial candidate.

The upshot of the unorthodox proceedings, which incumbent Gov. Buddy Roehmer boycotted altogether, was that Clyde Holloway, a congressman from central Louisiana with voter support similar to Duke’s, took the party endorsement

But that does not mean that Duke, a state legislator from Metairie who founded the National Association for the Advancement of White People, and Roehmer will not compete for Louisiana governor come September, when the non-partisan state primary takes place.

Refusing to sign the mandatory party loyalty pledge, which states that a non-endorsed candidate will get out of the race, Duke strode defiantly around Legatee’s Cajun Dome, while his followers became enraged with the proceedings, according to Beth Rickey, a Republican committeewoman from New Orleans.

“Duke kept storming the podium to try to speak, physically pushing, but the chair would not let him speak,” she said in a telephone interview.

Some handcuffed themselves to the podium, saying that “wanted to be arrested for David,” she said. It “was virtually a Duke conference,” according to Rickey, who had just spent a week addressing Jewish groups in Atlanta.

One of the 1,400 delegates stood up, was recognized by the chair and then yielded this right to Duke, Duke, said the Rickey. He was declared out of order and there was an hour-long riot, she said, with Duke “egging them on.”

ONE STEP AWAY FROM DUKE

Holloway, too, offered to let Duke speak, which he did, saying he would not attack Holloway if he were chosen but would attack Roehmer’s candidacy.

A convention singer was silenced when he attempted to sing a patriotic American song and was urged to sing “Dixie” instead, said Rickey, a 20-year-veteran of state Republican politics who supports Roehmer’s candidacy.

The keynote speaker, former U.S. drug czar William Bennett, was booed and unable to finish his speech, she said.

Jarred by the antics, Rickey walked out of the convention, followed by black delegates.

Roehmer, a recent convert to the Republican Party, declined to attend for reasons of state. He has been cough up in a testy vote over and abortion bill, which he vetoed on Friday.

Holloway, a man who speaks of himself in the third person and whom Richey described as “one step away from Duke,” draws on the same voters as Duke, including those who do not like blacks or Jews. But Holloway also attracts the traditionally conservative, Rickey said.

“We have and unusual situation. The sitting governor is not the official candidate,” she said

Nevertheless, the endorsement means little, since the state Republican Party has nearly no money and the September primary is open. All candidates can run, and the two top vote-getters face a runoff in November.

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