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With David Duke in the hall, turmoil erupts at Louisiana U.S. Senate debate

Protestors spar with police as Duke screams at the moderator, calls for Hillary Clinton to get the electric chair

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — David Duke’s appearance at a November 2 U.S. Senate debate in Louisiana descended into turmoil, with the white racist screaming at the moderator and calling for Hillary Clinton’s execution, while police used pepper spray on angry protestors trying to get into the hall.

Protestors march against David Duke at Dillard University. (Courtesy: Twitter)

Protestors march against David Duke at Dillard University. (Courtesy: Twitter)

The sponsor of the debate, Raycom Media, which operates television states in four Louisiana cities, decided not to allow the public into the debate, leaving the six candidates on the stage talking to a television camera and a largely empty auditorium at Dillard University in New Orleans.

That didn’t sit well with protestors outside, who were angered by Duke’s presence at the historically black university and tried to force their way through a police cordon at the doorway. Six people were arrested, only one of which was a Dillard student, according to the university.

The specter of Duke was inescapable inside as well as outside the hall, with the moderator, John Snell, struggling mightily at times to prevent his presence from overwhelming the discussion.

Answering a question about Obamacare, Democrat Caroline Fayard pivoted to a direct attack on Duke.

“This snake has slithered out of the swamp, probably because the career politicians on this stage haven’t done their job effectively enough,” Fayard said. “But I’m here to tell … everybody who cares about the future of Louisiana that on November 8, the voters of Louisiana are going to join with me and cut the head off his hatred, once and for all.”

At another point, State Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican who is leading the polls in the race, called Duke “a convicted liar,” a reference to his 2002 conviction for tax and mail fraud.

“He spent time in prison for lying to his supporters. He swindled them out of their money and took that money and used it for his gambling addiction,” Kennedy said.

Snell gave Duke 15 seconds to respond, and, when he tried to go over his allotted time, the fireworks began.

“You’re not a moderator. You’re a typical media hack,” Duke shouted, as Snell tried to go on to the next speaker. “You’re gonna silence me now? You’re going to silence me?”

Later in the debate, Snell asked Duke what he meant by repeated references to “CNN Jews” in his earlier complaints about the media’s coverage of Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape.

“There is a problem in America with a very strong, powerful, tribal group that dominates our media and dominates out international banking,” Duke said. “I’m not opposed to all Jews … I’m against Jews or anybody else that puts the interest of some other place, or another country, over our own country.”

He then pivoted to a criticism of American foreign policy in general — and Clinton’s role in it in particular.

“The lady should be getting the electric chair, being charged with treason,” he said.

Duke has been an outspoken supporter of Trump. During the debate, he said, “I will be Donald Trump’s most loyal advocate to make sure his nominees go to the Supreme Court.”

Duke was also the subject of a testy change between the two Democrats on the stage, Fayard and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, over an ad her campaign has run insinuating that Campbell has been friendly with Duke on the campaign trail.

“There’s no context in which it is acceptable to have a conversation, whether public or private, with someone like David Duke,” said Fayard, who insisted her ad was accurate.

But Campbell said the insinuation that he has been cozy with Duke not was “not just a lie, it’s a damn lie.”

“I have nothing in common with David Duke other that that we’re probably breathing,” Campbell said.

After the debate, Dillard issued a statement saying police used pepper spray as a “last resort” after protestors tried to enter the building. However, peaceful protests outside the hall were not impeded.

“At no time did Dillard discourage protests; either by students or members of the community. We shared a dual responsibility of providing a safe space for those protesters and for the orderly management of the event,” the statement said.

Raycom contracted with Dillard to host the debate before it knew Duke would qualify for the event. The university decided to go ahead and honor the contract, despite criticism from students and alumni unhappy about the prospect of Duke appearing at Dillard.

Of the 24 candidates running for the Pelican State’s open U.S. Senate seat, six qualified for the debate based on their support in a poll commissioned by Raycom — Kennedy, Campbell, Fayard, Duke, and U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany of Layfayette and John Fleming of Minden.

In Louisiana, all candidates regardless of party run in a “jungle” primary on November 8, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December 10 runoff.

Polls show Kennedy and Campbell leading the race, which was apparent in the debate, with Boustany and Fleming taking aim at Kennedy and Fayard primarily targeting Campbell.

Here is the video of the debate:

Racist David Duke qualifies for Louisiana U.S. Senate debate

Debate on November 2 will take place at historically black Dillard University

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — Racist David Duke will take the stage at an historically black university on November 2 to debate with five other Louisiana U.S. Senate candidates, after scoring high enough in a poll to qualify for the event.

State Treasurer John Kennedy

State Treasurer John Kennedy

The poll, commissioned by debate Raycom Media, showed Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell leading a crowded field of 24 candidates vying for the the open Senate seat in the Pelican State’s all-party “jungle” primary.

The top two vote-getters on November 8, regardless of party, will advance to a December 10 runoff.

Duke came in at 5.1 percent in the poll commissioned by Raycom, the sponsor of the debate at Dillard University in New Orleans, which was just above the 5 percent threshold set for candidates to qualify. Raycom confirmed to the Baton Rouge Advocate that, based on those poll results, it would invite Duke to the debate.

Raycom, based in Montgomery, Alabama, plans to air the debate on its television stations in Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport.

Duke celebrated the news in a Tweet, in which he said, “I can’t wait to tell truth nobody else dares!”

Dillard, which rented space for the event to Raycom’s station in New Orleans, WVUE, said in a statement that the university “will work with WVUE to ensure that the event is secure and managed professionally, as it does with every event that occurs on our campus.”

The statement also said that WVUE is the “sole sponsor” of the event and that Dillard “does not endorse the candidacy of any of the candidates who will appear at this debate.”

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

The poll found Kennedy at 24 percent, followed by Campbell at 19 percent. Three candidates were in a statistical tie for third place: Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer (12 percent), and two sitting GOP U.S. House members, Charles Boustany of Layfayette (11 percent) and John Fleming of Minden (10 percent).

Among those not making the 5-percent cut were Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese-American Republican who represented the New Orleans area in Congress from 2009 to 2011, and Rob Maness, who made a spirited but unsuccessful Tea Party-backed bid for the Senate in 2014.

The seat is being vacated by Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter, who gave up his Senate seat to make an unsuccessful run for governor in 2015.

White supremacist David Duke may run against House Majority Whip Steve Scalise

Duke calls Scalise a “sellout” for apologizing for 2002 speech to racist group

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugBATON ROUGE (CFP) — White supremacist David Duke says he may oppose House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in 2016 over Scalise’s apology for a 2002 appearance before a racist group founded by Duke

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise

“This guy is a sellout,” Duke told Baton Rouge radio host Jim Engster January 28. “Why in the world would he apologize?”

Duke said Scalise was “basically condemning the people of his district who voted overwhelmingly for me to be their U.S. senator and voted (me) to be their governor.” He also said Scalise should resign from Congress because “he has betrayed his people.”

Scalise represents Louisiana’s 1st District in Congress, which includes suburban New Orleans and parts of Jefferson Parish that Duke represented in the Louisiana House form 1989 to 1992.

Scalise’s purported 2002 appearance before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization at a hotel in Metairie was first reported by liberal blogger Lamar White, Jr., who attributed the allegation to Stormfront, a white supremacist Web site.

Scalise had initially said he did not remember speaking to the group and had no records indicating whether he had. However, he later conceded that he had spoken to the group but described his appearance as a “mistake.”

Scalise said the address to EURO was one of a number of speeches he gave to groups in opposition to a ballot initiative that shifted Louisiana’s tax base from sales to income taxes, and he did not endorse its racist ideology.

Despite blistering criticism from Democrats, the House Republican leadership stood behind Scalise, and he remained whip, the No. 3 position in the House.

Duke, 64, a former Nazi and KKK member, remade himself as less confrontational, far-right Republican in the 1980s and won a seat in the Louisiana House in 1989. In 1991, he ran for governor, advancing to a runoff before being defeated by Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards. In 1996, he polled nearly 12 percent of the vote in a U.S. Senate race but failed to make the runoff.

In late 2002 — after Scalise’s purported appearance in front of his group — Duke pleaded guilty to tax and mail fraud and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.

As a convicted felon, Duke is barred from seeking state office. But federal law does not bar convicted felons from running for Congress

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise calls appearance at racist rally “a mistake”

Louisiana Republican says appearance was part of a campaign against a tax referendum

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is expressing regret over a 2002 appearance before a  group founded by white supremacist David Duke, saying he rejects the group’s “hateful bigotry.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise

“It was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold,” Scalise said in a statement released December 30. “I am very disappointed anyone would try to infer otherwise for political gain.”

Scalise’s purported appearance before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization at a hotel in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb, was first reported by liberal blogger Lamar White, Jr., who attributed the allegation to Stormfront, a white supremacist Web site.

Scalise, 49, who represents a suburban New Orleans district in the House, was a state legislator at the time. He said the address to EURO was one of a number of speeches he gave to groups in opposition to a ballot initiative that shifted Louisiana’s tax base from sales to income taxes.

Scalise had initially said he did not remember speaking to the group and had no records indicating whether he had. However, in his latest statement, he conceded that he had spoken to the group.

The revelation of Scalise’s speech, coming just a week before Congress comes back into session, drew fire from Democrats, who called on the House GOP leadership to condemn the man they elected whip just last August.

However, both House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy released statements supporting Scalise.

While Boehner said Scalise made “an error in judgment,” the speaker said Scalise “was right to acknowledge it was wrong and inappropriate.”

“He has my full confidence as out whip,” Boehner said.

Democrats blasted Scalise’s original explanation, insisting that he must have known the group was affiliated with Duke, who served in the Louisiana legislature and ran for governor in 1991.

“There were media reports running up to the event that made it crystal clear who was going to be the highlight — David Duke,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, in a statement. “If someone in Louisiana didn’t know about David Duke’s beliefs in 2002, they must have been hiding under a very large rock somewhere.”

Duke, 64, a former Nazi and KKK member, remade himself as less confrontational, far-right Republican in the 1980s and won a seat in the Louisiana House in 1989, representing Jefferson Parish, which Scalise also represents.

In the 1991 race for governor, he advanced to a runoff, where he was defeated by Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards. In late 2002 — after Scalise’s purported appearance in front of his group — Duke pleaded guilty to tax and mail fraud and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.

Louisiana U.S. House: Edwards still in, “Kissing Congressman” out

Edwin Edwards, the disgraced former governor, makes runoff, but U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister’s re-election bid falls short

By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugBATON ROUGE (CFP) — Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, a larger-than-life politician who spent eight years behind bars for corruption, has earned a spot in the runoff for the 6th District U.S. House seat.

U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister

U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister

But in the adjoining 5th District, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, who refused calls for his resignation after a video surfaced in April showing him passionately kissing a female staffer, finished fourth in Louisiana’s November 4 jungle primary, getting just 11 percent of the vote.

After the video surfaced, McAllister, a conservative Christian and married father of five first elected to the House in 2013, announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. But he later changed his mind, and his wife appeared in a TV ad on his behalf.

Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards

Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards

Edwards, 87, finished first in 6th District primary with 30 percent of the vote in a crowded field that included two fellow Democrats and eight Republicans. He will now face Republican Garret Graves, the former chairman of the state’s coastal protection authority, in the December 6 runoff.

The district, which takes in much of the southeastern part of the state including most of Baton Rouge, is strongly Republican, which will make Graves a prohibitive favorite in the runoff.

Still, getting into the runoff was a political triumph for the colorful octogenarian, who starred in a television reality show in 2013 with his third wife, Trina, who is 51 years his junionr.

Edwards served a record four terms as Louisiana’s governor between 1972 and 1996. In 1991, after being acquitted of federal corruption charges, he won a runoff against white supremacist David Duke. During that campaign, a popular bumper sticker urged Louisianians to “Vote For the Crook. It’s Important.”

In 2001, Edwards was convicted on 17 counts of bribery, extortion, fraud and racketeering stemming from his last terms as governor. he served eight years in prison.

As a convicted felon, Edwards is barred from seeking state office. But there is no prohibition on convicted felons seeking federal office.

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