Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said Friday that he's running for the US Senate in Louisiana, the AP reports. A registered Republican, he will be seeking an open seat being vacated by Republican David Vitter, who has decided not to run for re-election on the Nov. 8 ballot; nearly two dozen candidates have signed up for the race. "I'm proud to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate," Duke said in a 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 heritage of European Americans." Duke's announcement came as the state is grappling with deep racial tensions after the shooting death of a black man by white police officers and the killing of three law enforcement officers by a black man.
The white supremacist is a convicted felon who pleaded guilty in 2002 to bilking his supporters and cheating on his taxes. Duke spent a year in federal prison. He's a former state representative who represented suburban New Orleans for one term more than two decades ago and was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress. His failed bid for governor in 1991 against former Gov. Edwin Edwards was one of Louisiana's most high-profile elections, with Duke opponents proudly showing bumper stickers supporting Edwards that read "Vote for the crook. It's important." On his website, Duke posts he'd been "urged by enormous numbers of people" to run. "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." (Read more David Duke stories.)