From ........ National Catholic Reporter

February 17, 1989

Picture of David Duke on front cover, with caption reading:

Catholics rally around former Nazi in Louisiana election ..... Page 3"

From page 3:

By Jason Berry Special to the National Catholic Reporter

NEW ORLEANS As NCR went to press and the Feb. 18 election to fill vacant Louisiana house district 81 entered home stretch, David Duke, 38, former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was leading John Treen, 63, Republican loyalist, and brother of former governor Dave Treen.

Duke's campaign manager and key staffers claim they are practicing [Roman] Catholics.

Duke, who heads the National Association for the Advancement of White People, is running as a Republican. He eschews overt racism, demanding "equal rights for whites." He led the Jan 21 primary field of seven candidates with 33 percent. Treen lagged second with 19 percent. The Jefferson parish (county) district is 99 percent white.

Duke, known as "the Nazi of LSU" (Louisiana State University) in college years, once dressed as a storm trooper to protest a speech by radical lawyer William Kuntsler, with a sign saying "Gas the Chicago 7" (Kuntsler's clients). In the 1970s, as a Klan leader, he wore suits and appeared on network talk shows, projecting a polished image. In 1979 he quit the KKK after internal disputes.

Although blacks and Jews have been targets of Klan violence since the mid 1960s, Catholics bore the brunt of KKK hostilities during the Depression.

"For the Roman Catholic hierarchy as a semi political religious organization, we have an antipathy bred from the loins of our forefathers," stated a KKK document. Although no available data chart homes in the district by religion, veteran pollster and Loyola University political scientist Dr. Edward Renwick told NCR: "Duke clearly received Catholic votes. Why they would vote for a man with a Klan background is beyond me."

New Orleans Archbishop Philip M. Hannan, who stepped down Feb. 14 after a 25-year career marked by a strong commitment to racial equality, issued a pastoral letter read at 13 parishes in the district, warning that the "election will be a factor in shaping the nation's view of our morality." After meeting with Duke at Duke's request Ash Wednesday, Hannan issued a statement saying Duke "repeatedly maintained that he has repudiated the Ku Klux Klan and the philosophy of racial hatred. My great concern, as I have stated, is solely for the moral issues involved in this campaign.... It is now up to the people to decide the issues in this campaign and whether or not Mr. Duke's remarks to me represent his true feelings." Monsignor Henry Bezou, retired pastor of St. Francis Xavier parish and author of a local history, told NCR [Roman] Catholics supporting Duke "don't see the heart of the matter. It's history repeating itself in these trying times. The priests are quite concerned."

Demographically, Jefferson is a white flight suburb. As in outlying townships of Detroit, white resentment has been building for years concerning crime, drugs and teenage pregnancies in New Orleans, which now has a black voting majority.

Duke profited by reactions to black homicides in the city during January street scuffles that broke out following the annual Martin Luther King march, and the Supreme Court decision banning guaranteed percentages for minority contractors on public works projects.

Duke campaigned against set-asides. With the GOP trying to attract blacks, a Duke victory "would be a major national embarrassment," said [Roman] Catholic state Representative Jim Donelon. "That leopard doesn't change its spots. I think it's a moral issue that goes beyond ordinary politics."

In his NAAWP newsletter, Duke has written that blacks have smaller brain sizes than whites and advocated geographic segregation with "unassimilable minorities" of Puerto Rican and Mediterranean descent relocated in selected New York boroughs, Jews relegated to Manhattan and Long Island, blacks to a Deep South renamed New Africa in all, eight U.S. districts carved out by social engineering. Hannan's letter sought to avoid appearances of political meddling. Jews have expressed concern. The militant Jewish Defense Organization of New York scheduled a Feb. 12 protest rally in New Orleans, which local rabbis strongly opposed.

Louisiana Republican party chairman William Nungesser criticized Duke's "opportunistic character." Duke switched party registration for the race. WDSU-TV reported that he took an apartment in the district shortly before the campaign. State election law requires a year's residency in a district to qualify for a legislative seat.

The prescribed time period to challenge Duke's residency has lapsed. Treen said he will not seek alternative civil action. Other parties may, but should such an effort fail, it would likely seal a Duke victory. Most experts rate the race a toss-up.