DAVID DUKE FINAL

Screengrab via David Duke / YouTube

Duke says he has seen an 'outpouring of overwhelming support.'

On Friday, former Ku Klux Klan leader and white supremacist David Duke announced his plan to run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, claiming that European Americans need someone who will “defend their rights and heritage.”

“At least we will have one voice in Congress,” his website reads. 

According to PoliticoDuke has previous experience in politics, having served as a state representative nearly two decades ago. He later made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1991 against Democrat Edwin Edwards, and he ran for president in 1992. Now, however, Duke is seeking the open seat left vacated by Republican David Vitter.

“Thousands of special interests groups stand up for African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, [and] Jewish-Americans,” Duke says in his video. “The fact is, European-Americans need at least one man in Congress. We must stop the massive immigration and ethnic cleansing of the people whose forefathers created America.” 

Duke continues: “I was the first major candidate in modern times to promote the term and policy of ‘America First.’ ... I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years. I’ve always opposed these wars that lead our nation to disaster.”

Duke’s announcement comes just two weeks after the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., as the state deals with increasing racial tensions. His senate bid also comes on the heels of Trump accepting his party’s nomination for president. 

In February 2016, Trump received backlash for declining to distance himself from Duke’s endorsement; however, the presidential nominee has not yet commented on Duke’s announcement. 

Duke claims to have seen an outpouring of support; however, Ward Baker, the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, quickly tweeted his group would not endorse Duke. 

In 2002, Duke who spent a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion. 

While Duke’s announcement may be the most publicized, he is not the only one entering the race, ABC reports. Nearly two dozen candidates—including Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), and state treasurer John Kennedy (R-La.)—are seeking to win the Nov. 8 election. 

Louisiana has a jungle primary system, meaning that if no candidate wins a majority of votes in November, the top two candidates will face off in a December runoff election.

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