Alford: Like it or not, David Duke is running for office

Even his mildest critics would argue that David Duke is only as relevant as the mainstream press makes him, writes political columnist Jeremy Alford in his latest column.

“Every inch of newsprint, every second of television time and every syllable of radio chatter gives the former Ku Klux Klansman a chance to build on his current candidacy in the U.S. Senate race,” writes Alford, adding that ignoring Duke, who has universal name recognition, won’t make him go away.

Many people think something needs to be done about Duke’s polarizing presence in the race, Alford writes. For example, he says, talks have already begun in some corners of the state Republican Party about offering a bulk endorsement to all of the major GOP candidates except for Duke.

“If it does come down to a vote of the central committee it may happen at the body’s next meeting on Aug. 27,” Alford writes. “As a backup plan, Republican leaders are also considering a change to the GOP’s state bylaws to ban candidates from using the elephant party label on ballots if they are convicted felons or are current or former members of hate groups.

Such a change would hit Duke on two fronts, Alford notes, as he’s been convicted of tax evasion and is a former KKK grand wizard.

“That conversation too could end up on the agenda for next month’s Republican State Central Committee meeting,” he writes.

Forum and debate organizers, meanwhile, are quietly considering how to handle Duke’s potential inclusion—or more likely, exclusion. While establishing a high monetary threshold for fundraising requirements will do the job, most candidate gatherings also have guidelines for showings in polls, Alford notes.

Which brings up a good question. What is Duke polling at in Louisiana these days?,” he writes.

Martin Johnson, the LSU political science professor who holds the Kevin P. Reilly chair at the Manship School of Mass Communication, believes the runoff candidates from a field of two dozen will likely pull electoral shares in the low 20s. When he last ran for the U.S. Senate in 1996, Duke had a fourth place finish with 12%.

Read the full column.

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.

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