Did GOP’s Steve Scalise vote for KKK’s David Duke in 1991?

In 1991, Republican Louisiana state senator, and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke shocked the political world by placing second in the jungle primary for the state’s governorship. He would go on to get demolished in the runoff election against Democrat Edwin Edwards, despite winning 60 percent of the white vote.

In 1991, Steve Scalise was a little-known recent college grad who was working his way through the Louisiana Republican establishment on his way to becoming a state senator in 1995. By 2002, Scalise was, we now know, speaking at a white supremacist conference hosted by none other than former KKK-man, David Duke himself.

David Duke (credit: Emmanuel d'Aubignosc)

David Duke (credit: Emmanuel d’Aubignosc)

Given the revelation that Scalise, now the Republican Majority Whip in the United States House of Representatives, launched his career by winking and nodding at Duke’s coalition of pearly-white voters — telling Louisiana journalist Stephanie Grace that he was “like David Duke without the baggage” — it’s a fair question to ask:

Did Steve Scalise vote for David Duke in the jungle primary and/or the runoff election for Louisiana Governor in 1991?

As far as I know, no one has asked him yet.

As Alison Lundergan Grimes learned the hard way in 2014, politicians’ voting history is fair game for questioning, especially when a career partisan is trying to distance themselves from an unpopular candidate of the same party. Public disavowals are fine, but when the cameras are off and it’s time to cast a ballot, where did your loyalties really lie? Grimes’ dodginess in her answer served as an indication to Kentucky voters that while she claimed to be a conservative Democrat, she was probably more liberal than she was letting on and, worse still, she was willing to hide that in order to get elected.

The ballot box is even more relevant for Scalise than it was for Grimes, given Scalise’s open-armed endorsement of David Duke’s 1991 campaign platform, if not his prejudice. Especially given that Scalise may not have even spoken at the white supremacist conference, even though he admitted to attending in 2002, I’d be willing to lighten up a bit if he were to come out and say that not only does he not hold David Duke’s prejudices, but that he actively rejected them at the ballot box.

Scalise’s vote is the simplest measuring stick we have as to whether it’s fair to associate Scalise with Duke and his “baggage.”

However, if Scalise is as dodgy on his answer as Grimes was, which is likely, given the fact that he’s totally fine with David Duke’s policies, it would be an indication that his recent attempts to put space between himself and Duke are nothing more than damage control.

In any case, it’s time for reporters to get Steve Scalise on the record about his votes in 1991. It’s a simple question and a simple answer.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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34 Responses to “Did GOP’s Steve Scalise vote for KKK’s David Duke in 1991?”

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  2. tohu777 says:

    “I’d be willing to lighten up a bit if…” – I fail to see the distinction between Scalise-speaking and Scalise-merely-attending, here. KKK and neo-Nazis of whatever sect/brand are violent, paranoid, seditious sons of bitches. If ANY public servant/politician sees fit to accept an invitation to attend, let alone to address, a KKK/”white rights” gathering – rather than, say, doing something more productive, like mowing the lawn or taking a long shit – they’ve marked themselves as unworthy. There are many GOP pols who are unworthy for other reasons. But Scalise has *proven* himself unworthy by showing himself to be a dangerous extremist and liar, to boot.

  3. silas1898 says:

    It was “The Wizard vs. The Lizard”

  4. Indigo says:

    It’s every bit as messy now as it was then. Ah . . . the stability of the American Way.

  5. 2karmanot says:

    No, I no…….

  6. Butch1 says:

    It doesn’t mean you cannot ask him. Just putting the question out there does damage to him.

  7. Indigo says:

    Come to think about it, that’s probably about exactly how it worked. We knew. We weren’t about to admit it, though. It’s all very . . . Americana a la Nathaniel Hawthorne. We’re not the most forthright people on the planet, are we?

  8. Robert Scheffel says:

    Yeah! Finally a proactive response to GOP spin and double standards. Hope this query reaches the mainstream media.

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  10. The_Fixer says:

    That reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld’s “Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns.” Or whatever the hell he was trying to say.

  11. Bill_Perdue says:

    Slick Willy, of NAFTA, DOMA, DADT and deregulation fame and the term ‘reputation’ don’t compute. Maybe infamy.

  12. nicho says:

    No — we knew that we didn’t know what we knew that we didn’t know that we knew.

  13. Houndentenor says:

    Edwards vs Duke. Another reminder of the shittiness of the choices offered to American voters. No wonder voter turnout is almost always so low.

  14. Houndentenor says:

    it’s a simple yes or no question. Of course he could always like and we’d have no way of knowing.

  15. Indigo says:

    Either that or we didn’t know that we didn’t know we didn’t know.

  16. 2karmanot says:

    But, but it was a ‘stain’ on his reputation.

  17. 2karmanot says:

    Because we didn’t know what we didn’t know?

  18. 2karmanot says:

    And all this time I thought Clinton was just being cynical with Hegelian absolutes.

  19. FLL says:

    Off-topic: Same-sex marriage is legal in Miami-Dade County as of 2 pm (ET) and in the rest of Florida at midnight (38 years after Anita Bryant’s campaign in Dade County). Video from Miami-Dade County:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQj2jnfE8xA#t=74

  20. Carrollton Rivers says:

    Somebody will ask Scalise the question. Don’t expect the truth. Whether Scalise voted for Duke or Edwin Edwards in the 1991 Louisiana governor’s race, the fact that this was a huge election, with the eyes of the nation following the race, and the fact that the suburb of Metairie (Scalise’s future district) was ground zero for David Duke at the time, all point to the fact that Scalise beyond all doubt knew who Kenny Knight was, and was not sufficiently put-off by Knight’s racism, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denials and Hitler admiration. Not only was there the 2002 incident, but Knight gave Scalise a thousand dollar donation in 2008 and worked the phone bank. If Scalise does not step down, he will continue to be the gift that keeps on giving, with even the White House taking a few jabs at Scalise today.

  21. FLL says:

    I’ve always wondered if there was any “left-wing” or “right-wing” analysis of extra-marital affairs on the part of public officials. Probably both sides of the political spectrum would disapprove of extra-marital partners benefitting from public funds or receiving gifts on the taxpayer’s dime, which was not the case in the Lewsinsky scandal. What’s left is a very thin soup. Nicho points out below that Clinton’s contemporaries in Congress were guilty of much the same, and I agree. Certainly, past presidents were most likely guilty of the same (e.g., JFK with women and Nixon with Charles “Bebe” Rebozo).

    Are these “crimes or misdemeanors”? Legally speaking, no. Yet I still hear the right-wing crowd get distraught over Clinton’s liaison with Lewinsky (joined, as usual, by Bill Perdue). Yes, Clinton perjured himself, but why the grand jury inquiry in the first place? Do you think grand jury inquiries should be limited to actual “crimes or misdemeanors”? Are consensual affairs fair game, and if so, to what purpose? JFK and Nixon show that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If JFK’s affairs with women could generate a grand jury investigation, then so too could Nixon’s relationship with Bebe Rebozo. The old double-edged sword. You might not believe this, but there is a substantial part of the electorate who feel that, barring misuse of taxpayer funds, it’s none of anyone’s business.

  22. Don Chandler says:

    It is private, but when you get a person to state that they didn’t vote for Duke and state that they are against what Duke was for, well, that is progress. Not only is it progress, but it might lead to some hurt feelings, among racists like Duke’s type, which in turn, might lead to political feedback….and that may lead to political contradictions and well, lies.

  23. Don Chandler says:

    Scumsuckers: livingston. Hyde. Gingrich, bob barr, strom thurmond… and many others dared to point a finger at Clinton.

  24. emjayay says:

    Internet advertising sure is trashy. Here’s the Brooklyn Residents are ‘Rattled’ by New Website – with photo of trashy looking young woman with bra straps showing, intruding into the post. Apparently wherever you live, the same website and photo have you ‘rattled’ too.

    Also, it seems that this is my last chance to watch a banned video. Additional claim: She is over 50. (but judging by her butt shape, doesn’t look it). Jesus.

  25. nicho says:

    A lot of things are supposed to be private. Apparently, times change.

  26. nicho says:

    People scoff at that, but it’s important to remember two things. First, Clinton was being sandbagged by a bunch of scumsuckers, many of whom were doing what they were attacking him for. The second is that in the legal world, the tiniest thing can make a huge difference. I had a friend who went through hell trying to probate his partner’s will because of a dispute with the partner’s family over the meaning of the word “and.”

  27. Indigo says:

    Well . . . yeah but . . . this America and we’re notorious busy-bodies.

  28. Indigo says:

    Whatever is is, it isn’t that that.

  29. Bill_Perdue says:

    Is is not sex.

  30. Butch1 says:

    This is a fair question to ask and one knows that none of the “paid” media is going to go near it and keep their jobs.

  31. 2karmanot says:

    Or Clinton’s definition of what the definition of ‘Is’ is.

  32. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Isn’t the vote supposed to be private?

  33. Indigo says:

    Remember the debate over the distinction between “segregation” and “discrimination”? Segregation is against the law; discrimination is only sensible. And what’s more, it is not against the law. Thus the Reaganites lo these many years gone.

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