Less than two months after he won a surprising 44 percent of the Louisiana vote in his bid for the Senate, state Rep. David Duke (R), a former Ku Klux Klan leader, has announced plans to run for governor.
Four Democrats -- Gov. Buddy Roemer, former governor Edwin W. Edwards, Kenner Mayor Aaron Broussard and Louis Lambert, a state public service commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1979 -- intend to run in the Oct. 19 nonpartisan race.
If no candidate wins a majority of votes, the two leading candidates -- regardless of party affiliation -- meet in a Nov. 16 runoff.
"I want the people of Louisiana to have a clear choice," Duke told reporters before a New Orleans fund-raiser Friday night. "If we don't slow down the cycle of taxes and spending our state has been in for so long, I think we're headed for ruin."
Duke, who has been rebuffed by the Republican Party because of his Klan past and some of his views on minority issues, said he would welcome GOP support in his race for governor.
"I don't know if I can get the support of the national GOP, but rank-and-file Republicans agree with my message," Duke said in a CBS News interview earlier in the day.
"I received about three-fourths of the Republican vote in Louisiana," he continued. "I'm an accepted member of the Republican delegation in the legislature. I know I'm espousing basic, mainstream, conservative Republican viewpoints; it's just that I'm the first elected official that's talking about these issues."
Nevertheless, Louisiana GOP leaders are looking for another candidate. The most often mentioned include former governor David C. Treen, Deputy Energy Secretary and former representative W. Henson Moore, and Reps. Richard H. Baker and Clyde C. Holloway.
Duke, who said he is authorizing the formation of a fund-raising committee and will make a more formal announcement within 60 days, outlined a platform of cuts in state spending and no new taxes.
He reiterated his opposition to affirmative action and minority hiring quotas and his support for forcing welfare recipients to work for their money. Duke said he would organize a team of volunteer lawyers to challenge government affirmative-action provisions.