David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, said Friday that he plans to mount a run for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana.
In a YouTube video posted to his site, Duke said he had been called to run by “enormous numbers of people in his district.”
“I believe in equal rights for all and respect for all Americans,” Duke said, in announcing his candidacy. “However, what makes me different is I also demand respect for the rights and heritage of European Americans.”
Duke served one term as a Louisiana State Representative and unsuccessfully ran for president as a Democrat in 1988 and as a Republican in 1992. He pled guilty to a felony in 2002 for trying to cheat his supporters out of money and lying about his taxes, for which he spent a year in prison. According to the New York Times at the time, his plea disqualified him from running for public office.
Duke, currently registered as a Republican, would face about two dozen candidates for the open Senate seat, which is being vacated by Sen. David Vitter. But other Republicans were quick to denounce Duke’s planned run — the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee quickly condemned Duke’s candidacy Friday:
The state Republican party also said they would “actively oppose his candidacy” and released a statement calling Duke a “hate-filled fraud”:
In his announcement, Duke called for campaign finance reform and anti-trust laws to break up media companies, and repeated the “America First” message that Donald Trump has also used on the campaign trail. Duke caused controversy earlier this year by expressing support for Trump in the primaries, putting the candidate under fire until he said he “disavowed” Duke’s support.
Nonetheless, Duke tweeted he was pleased Thursday night by Trump’s speech accepting the Republican party’s nomination and claimed similarities with the candidate’s platform in his announcement.
“I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years,” he said.