Judge Says GOP Candidate Linked to KKK Can Run for Governor

Rich Sugg/Getty Images
Rich Sugg/Getty Images

An honorary member of the Ku Klux Klan can stay on the GOP primary ballot for Missouri governor, a judge ruled Friday.

Longshot candidate Darrell McClanahan III survived a legal challenge by the Missouri Republican Party to shunt him from the ballot, which was denied Friday by Cole County Circuit Court Judge Cotton Walker. The petition had argued for McClanahan’s removal on the grounds that the GOP didn’t properly vet McClanahan before he filed his candidacy in February; Walker, in his decision, wrote that while the GOP was free to distance itself from McClanahan, the judge would not remove him from the ballot.

McClanahan’s lawyer, Dave Roland, said he believed the Missouri GOP’s request was doomed from the start.

“I’m not sure they ever actually intended to win this case,” Roland told the Associated Press. “I think the case got filed because the Republican Party wanted to make a very big public show that they don’t want to be associated with racism or antisemitism. And the best way that they could do that was filing a case that they knew was almost certain to lose.”

McClanahan’s KKK ties were made known when a photo of him with a burning cross began circulating after he launched his primary campaign. He’s also confirmed the authenticity of other photos of him making the Nazi salute, which were shared by a former Missouri state lawmaker.

While McClanahan has maintained that he was never a member of the KKK, he was given honorary status for one year and describes himself as being “pro-white.” When he learned that the Missouri GOP had filed a petition to get him off the ballot, he derided them as “a bunch of anti-White hypocrites” on social media.

“The Missouri GOP knew exactly who I am,” McClanahan claimed. He recalled being told “that I should just not say anything bad about the Jews” by the state party’s chairman, and accused other party leaders of hypocrisy, claiming they had made similar racist comments.

According to Ballotpedia, McClanahan is one of nine candidates vying for the GOP nomination to replace Gov. Mike Parson. The frontrunners in the deep red state include Lieutenant Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, and state senator Bill Eigel.

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