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Duke signing autographs before Louisiana runoff election. Giving the Devil His Due BY JAMES CULLEN HE REST OF AMERICA watched in morbid fas cination this past November as Louisiana voters agonized over their choice for governor. The primary election had divided the electorate among the more moderate candidates, leaving a runoff featuring David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader and admirer of Adolf Hitler, a nd Edwin Edwards, the gambling and womanizing former governor who was acquitted of federal corruption charges but was turned out by reform-minded voters in 1987. Louisiana has a colorful and checkered political history, but the potential embarrassment of having a governor who drew his political inspiration from Mein Kampf was too much for the business establishment, which joined organized labor, blacks and Jews in a bipartisan coalition that managed to beat Duke back with slogans such as: “Vote for Duke Create a Fiihrer,” and “Vote for the Crdok It’s importaht.” After Edwards rolled to victory with 61 percent of the vote in a record turnout, many national observers dismissed Duke, even after he announced plans to run for the Republican presidential nomination. But those who track white supremacist groups warn that Duke is a symptom of an attempt by white supremacists to exploit middle-class frustration with government that they feel is unresponsive to their needs. Although Duke was defeated, he received 55 percent of the votes of whites. He also appeared on at least eight national TV programs in the closing weeks of the campaign, and approximately half the contributions he received came from outside Louisiana. While leaders of both of the mainstream political parties distanced themselves from Duke, both parties have some owning up to do as Duke prepares to take his show on the road. Democrats and RepubliCans share the blame for allowing a candidate such as Duke to exploit economic and political unrest. Republicans are to blame for exploiting racial issues since the passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-1960g. Duke was repudiated by Republican leaders even as some Louisiana Republican leaders wondered what . the fuss was about. After all, Duke had adopted some of President George Bush’s favorite themes on race-based quotas, welfare and crime. Democrats share the blame for not calling the GOP on its use of racially-charged “code words” and for failing to justify civil rights initiatives in the minds of white middle-class voters. Democrats also should feel no smugness about the damage Duke might do to the GOP image. After all, the Democrats have been fighting attempts by Lyndon LaRouche and his far-right followers to gain Democratic leadership posts, an effort that reached its peak in 1986 when a LaRouche candidate won the Democratic primary for secretary of state in Illinois, forcing the regular Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Adlai Stevenson, to head an alternative Democratic slate as a “Solidarity Democrat.” Duke’s emergence may have ruined a good thing for Republicans who have been refining the use of thinly-veiled attacks on Democratsponsored civil rights initiatives ever since Richard Nixon’s implementa 34 JANUARY 17 & 31, 1992 lion of the “Southern Strategy” in 1968. Earlier in the year, GOP strategists crowed that hiring quotas would be the “wedge issue” in the 1992 election, They had a success in the 1990 California gubernatorial race when Pete Wilson, a Republican U.S. senator, put Diane Feinstein, the Democratic mayor of San Francisco, on the defensive by saying that Republican U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms successfully played the race card when a black Democrat, Harvey Gantt, pressed him in the closing days of the 1990 Senate race in North Carolina.. Helms’ TV advertisements showed a white person saying affirmative action had cost him a job for which he was qualified. Gantt supported the 1990 civil rights bill, which President Bush had vetoed. In Alabama, incumbent Republican Gov. Guy Hunt successfully re 14444,404