Politics

David Duke is No Wizard at Politics

White supremacist has made a number of failed runs for office

David Duke, who's considering a run against Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, reads the news of his defeat by Democrat Edwin Edwards in the 1991 Louisiana governor's race. (Tannen Maury/AP file photo)

It's been nearly 30 years since David Duke won his only political race, but news that he's considering a run for the House against  Majority Whip Steve Scalise got a lot of attention.  

It's not the first time that Duke has floated the idea of running against Scalise — he floated the idea early last year after Scalise was forced to apologize for "a mistake I regret" in speaking in 2002 to a white supremacist group founded by Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.  

Duke called Scalise a "sellout" and called for him to resign his seat and said he was thinking about running against him.   

"I’m definitely going to consider it because its so disgusting to me to see … he got elected on false pretenses,” Duke said on a radio show in January 2015 according to Buzzfeed .  

Duke said it was the ambush on police in Dallas that killed five officers that compelled him to think about running again. A statement on his website said Duke had been encouraged by "enormous numbers of people" in his district to run.  

"With the country coming apart at the seams and no one willing to really speak the truth about what is happening, the majority population in this country needs someone who will actually give voice to their interests in the face of an increasingly violent hatefest launched by the media and political establishment against them," the statement said.  

Duke has a losing record in politics.  

After two unsuccessful bids for the Louisiana state Senate in the 1970s, he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, finishing with 4 percent of the vote in the primary won by Rev. Jesse Jackson.  

Failing that, he ran as the Independent Populist candidate for president, getting 1 percent of the vote in Louisiana as George H.W. Bush won the state.  

Duke's one win came after he switched his party registration to Republican and won a special election to fill a state House seat in 1989, winning the runoff, 51-49 percent.  

A year later, he challenged incumbent Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Jr. but lost 54-43 percent.    

Duke's most noted run was his losing bid for governor in 1991 against former Gov. Edwin Edwards, whose terms in the governor's office had been dogged by accusations of corruption.  

His candidacy was criticized in Louisiana and nationally, with even then-President George H.W. Bush calling him a "charlatan " and a racist. Opponents pushed Edwards' campaign with a bumper sticker that read "Vote for the Crook, It's Important."  

Duke got 9 percent of the vote in Louisiana's 1992 presidential primary, finishing well behind Bush and Pat Buchanan.  

In 1996, he finished out of the money  in the jungle primary for the Senate, a race eventually won by Mary Landrieu; and he came up short again in a 1999 bid for the House, finishing third behind now-Sen. David Vitter and David Treen, a former governor and congressman. Vitter went on to win the runoff.  

Correction 7:15 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misidentified one of Duke's opponents in his 1999 House race.

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