In a video posted to his YouTube account Friday, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke announced his run for a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana.
“After the great outpouring of overwhelming support, I’m proud to announce my candidacy for United States Senate,” Duke said in the video. “I believe in equal rights for all and respect for all Americans. However, what makes me different is I also demand respect for the rights and the heritage of European Americans.”
The retirement of Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) created an opening on the ballot this fall, prompting nearly two dozen candidates to enter the Senate race.
Duke’s run for a Senate seat comes as Louisiana struggles with heightened racial tensions following the death of an African-American man at the hands of police and a subsequent attack that left three Baton Rouge police officers dead.
His announcement also comes one day after real-estate tycoon Donald Trump officially accepted the GOP nomination for president. Duke has long been an avid supporter of Trump, calling him the “white knight” for “European American” interests, The Hill reports.
“I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump … embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed,” Duke said in his announcement video.
According to The Hill, the former KKK leader unsuccessfully ran for the Senate, House and governor of Louisiana in the 1990s. Duke is also a convicted felon who pleaded guilty to bilking his supporters and cheating on his taxes in 2002, the Associated Press reports. He spent a year behind bars in federal prison.
“With the country coming apart at the seams and no one willing to really speak the truth about what is happening, the majority population in this country needs someone who will actually give voice to their interests in the face of an increasingly violent hatefest launched by the media and political establishment against them,” Duke’s website states.
Critics of the ex-KKK Grand Wizard took to social media to express their outrage and confusion over the fact that a convicted felon and former hate group leader can even run for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
America: Where the former leader of a homegrown terrorist group can be a member of Congress #DavidDuke
— t r e v (@T_Wentt) July 22, 2016
Plz tell me openly racist people & convicted felons cannot run for ANY government office #DavidDuke #USSenate pic.twitter.com/7CnFRbb8sh
— Luanne (@LuanneShernisky) July 22, 2016
#DavidDuke = Former Terrorist Leader of #KKK
So can members of terrorist groups run for political office & be public servants?
— Aspiring Veganista (@Namaste2525) July 22, 2016