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Rickey said she did not learn about the appointee’s Duke ties until after she was seated. “It’s not a big issue to [a majority on the committee], as it should be. I was lax on that one, but it didn’t seem to be a major problem to a lot of people. They didn’t seem to care,” she said. That sends strong signals, she said. “Unfortunately the party is controlled by a sort of extreme element. The perception is that they are sympathetic to Duke because of their silence.” She also noted that some of the party officials, including leaders of the large evangelical Christian wing of the party, endorsed Duke, “which I think is morally reprehensible.” She also found it ironic that the group elected in 1988 as Louisiana supporters of Pat Robertson, a strong supporter of Israel, would side with Duke. “I just don’t understand. I guess maybe I don’t want to face the fact that they agree with him on some level, but these are people I’ve worked with for 20 years, and it’s been a major break for me with a lot of people. I had no idea that they had these strong feelings about racial things. It’s sort of separated the men from the boys,” she said. “I think the Republican Party has to return to a true conservative base, which is minus racial issues,” she said. “True conservatism is not racial, and Republicans have indeed used racial issues to get votes, as did President Bush in 1988. I don’t think that is right. I don’t want to lay the blame for David Duke at the Republican doorstep, because David Duke is a symptom of broad dissatisfaction that crosses party lines. However, we are indeed responsible for using these issues in order to get votes,” she said, adding that it was no wonder blacks do not feel comfortable in the Republican Party. “Opposition to affirmative action is on the one hand representative of less government, which is what government is supposed to be for, which is why I’m a Republican. But it has come to mean something more racially loaded and I think we have to face that,” she said. Rickey is an instructor in political science at the University of New Orleans. “We feel like we did what we set out to do, which was to defeat him soundly. I think he’ll never be elected to statewide office… So I’m going to sit back and watch, but stay vigilant.” The Texas Stakes At stake in Texas are 121 delegates, including three from each of the state’s 30 congressional districts and 31 selected at large. Duke’s best chances may abide in East Texas or in urban minority districts, where the relatively small numbers of Republican primary voters make them more susceptible to takeover by a determined group. Duke has surprised pundits ever since 1975, when as grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan he gained 32 percent of the vote against conservative Republican state Sen. Ken Ostenberger in east Baton Rouge, whose voters are relatively wealthy and well-educated. In June 1987, Duke announced his candidacy for president as a Democrat. His campaign manager was Ralph Forbes, an officer in the American Nazi Party from 1959 to 1967 and later a minister in the Identity religion, which holds that Jews literally descended from Satan. Duke won no Democratic delegates, but in March 1988 he accepted the nomination of the right-wing Populist Party. In his campaign he denounced blacks and Jews and ended up with more than 45,000 votes in the 12 states where he was on the ballot. His political career got a boost in 1989 when a Metairie state representative became a state judge. Duke switched to the Republican Party, announced his candidacy in the white middle-class New Orleans suburb and, toning down the racist rhetoric, embraced traditional Republi Duke with troopers and media, 1991. can themes of opposition’ to taxes, government spending, crime and welfare. Both Louisiana U.S. Senators, almost all the local officials, and Ronald Reagan and George Bush endorsed conservative Republican John Treen. Duke won the runoff by 277 votes. Since then Duke has worked hard to distance himself from his past. In 1990, He stunned political observers when he got 44 percent of the statewide vote in a race against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. J. Bennett Johnston. Last January he announced for governor against incumbent Buddy Roemer, who had won election in 1987 as a Democratic reformer, but had switched parties in 1990. Roemer ended up in third place in the primary election. After the 1989 Senate race, the Center for National Policy commissioned a study by the Garin-Hart Strategic Research Group that found Duke’s strong showing had been caused less by racism than by widespread political alienation. Voters believed government had abandoned the middle class, many of whose members perceived affirmative action to be reverse discrimination. The study concluded that a progressive populist could compete for these votes, but only by establishing an image of support for the middle THE TEXAS OBSERVER 37