David Duke Supporter Elected to Louisiana GOP

Extremism in the Mainstream

Campaigning for governor of Louisiana in 1991, David Duke said he had left his Klan past behind. That didn't stop a Duke bodyguard, worried as his boss' motorcade approached a black neighborhood in Morgan City, from grabbing a gun from the back seat of Duke's car. In the end, Duke narrowly lost the election, but he did win a majority of white votes.

David Duke — a former KKK imperial wizard, notorious neo-Nazi, and convicted tax cheat — isn't spending much time in Louisiana these days. He's busy instead spewing anti-Semitic and white supremacist vitriol from his new preferred base of operations in the Ukraine. But his old cronies — Duke was elected to the Louisiana House as a Republican in 1989, and lost a close gubernatorial race on the same party's ticket in 1991 — are still active in the state's politics.

keith rush
Keith Rush

In early June, one of those cronies, longtime Louisiana right-wing radio talk show host Keith Rush, 75, was elected to the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee, the governing body of the Louisiana state GOP.

Although Rush's election was duly noted in the Louisiana press, it was two blogs — Right Hand Thief and Flaming Liberal — that unearthed and publicized the tight links between Rush and Duke, the former imperial wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who was once photographed wearing a swastika armband.

When Duke ran for governor in 1991 (winning, shockingly, nearly 700,000 votes), he backed Rush's candidacy for the Jefferson Parish Council, telling his supporters that Rush "thinks like we do." In one of Rush's own campaign fliers, entitled "Who Is This Racist?" Rush answered his own question: "This racist believes that 'real' racism thrives on affirmative action programs." Rush also was a featured guest speaker at "Duke Fest," held July 4, 1991, in New Orleans.

Duke, who in a failed senatorial race in 1990 had garnered 60% of Louisiana's white vote, lost the 1991 governor's election to Edwin Edwards, who had been widely accused of corruption (he was finally convicted of racketeering in 2001 and sentenced to 10 years). Edwards' victory, thought impossible by pundits just months before the vote, came partly on the strength of two legendary bumper stickers: "Vote for the Crook. It's Important" and "Better a Lizard Than a Wizard."