Duke vs. Sen. Bennett Johnston – 1990
Duke garnered national attention when he ran as a Republican against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bennett Johnston in 1990. Polls showed the race could be close, which caused Democrats to pull out all the stops.
Johnston won in the primary, defeating Duke by a margin of 54% to 43%. Other candidates had 3%. But many political pundits were shocked by Duke’s showing.
Here is how area parishes voted in that race:
Bossier – Duke 50%, Johnston 48%, Others 2%.
Caddo – Johnston 63%, Duke 36%, Others 1%.
DeSoto – Johnston 53%, Duke 45%, Others 2%.
Claiborne – Johnston 52%, Duke 46%, Others 2%.
Webster – Duke 50%, Johnston 48%, Others 2%.
Duke va. Edwin Edwards – 1991
On the heels of his surprising result in the U.S. Senate race, Duke decided to run for governor in 1991, one of 11 candidates challenging incumbent Gov. Buddy Roemer, a Democrat who had switched to the Republican Party while in office.
Duke shocked the state and the nation when he finished second in the primary, knocking out Roemer’s bid for a second term.
Former Gov. Edwin Edwards came in first with 34%, Duke had 32%, and Roemer wound up with 27%. The election result sent many in the state into a frenzy over the possibility that Duke would defeat the controversial Edwards. It took all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to stop the Duke juggernaut. In the end, Edwards won the race 61-39%.
Here’s how area parishes voted in the runoff:
Bossier – Edwards 50%, Duke 50%. (Edwards carried the parish by 79 votes.)
Caddo – Edwards 64%, Duke 36%.
DeSoto – Edwards 59%, Duke 41%.
Claiborne – Edwards 58%, Duke 42%.
Webster – Edwards 52%, Duke 48%.
The race produced one of Edwards’ greatest quotes when he said, “The only thing we have in common is that we are both wizards under the sheets.” The race also spawned the most unlikely campaign slogan: “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.” Roemer is given credit for coming up with it.
Even though Duke lost the race, it earned him the dubious reputation of being the nation’s number one white supremacist.
U.S. Senate race – 1996
Democratic U.S. Sen. J. Bennett Johnston decided not to seek a fourth six-year term in 1996. Some politicos said that Duke had scared him out of running again.
It was not surprising, therefore, that Duke decided to enter the race along with 14 other candidates. His star had dimmed, and he finished fourth with 12% of the vote.
Republican Woody Jenkins, with 26%, finished first in the primary, followed by Democrats Mary Landrieu with 22% and Richard Ieyoub with 20%. In the runoff, Landrieu defeated Jenkins by 5,788 votes.
Here’s how area parishes voted in the primary:
Bossier – Jenkins 37%, Landrieu 23%, Ieyoub 12%, Duke 11%.
Caddo – Jenkins 34%, Ieyoub 27%, Landrieu 26%, Duke 6%.
DeSoto – Jenkins 27%, Ieyoub 22%, Landrieu 20%, Duke 10%.
Claiborne – Jenkins 29%, Landrieu 19%, Ieyoub 16%, Duke12%.
Webster – Jenkins 28%, Landrieu 23%, Ieyoub 15%, Duke 13%.
(Photo: Lou Gehrig Burnett)
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