It must be terribly inconvenient for Republicans trying to convince America that their party isn’t racist, that racists keep gravitating towards the Republican Party. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) posed for a photo with a former KKK leader during a campaign rally in Dawsonville, Ga., Friday, and now her campaign is claiming she had “no idea” who the man was.
The Washington Post reports that after the photo Loeffler took with Chester Doles—the decades-long member of the KKK and the Neo-Nazi National Alliance—went viral, Loeffler’s campaign immediately started doing damage control to ensure a photo op with a white supremacist didn’t hurt her chances of keeping her Senate seat in the Jan. 5 runoff election against her Democratic opponent, Raphael Warnock.
“Kelly had no idea who that was, and if she had she would have kicked him out immediately because we condemn in the most vociferous terms everything that he stands for,” Stephen Lawson, Loeffler’s campaign spokesman, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Here’s a little history on Doles as reported by the Post:
Doles’s long history of white supremacism has been well documented. In 1993, Doles was sentenced to prison for beating a Black man at a stoplight in Maryland, and he was sentenced again on separate weapons violations in Georgia.
In a 1998 jailhouse interview with The Post, Doles, with tattoos on his hands of a swastika and the words, “WHITE POWER,” said he was one of five generations of family members to belong to the KKK.
“I definitely follow the Nazis. National Socialism is my religion,” Doles told The Post in 1998. “I believe in it and I look for the Fourth Reich.”
Doles had also followed the National Alliance, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed for decades to be the “most dangerous and best organized Neo-Nazi” group in the United States, and he has been tied to the Hammerskins, a white supremacist group founded in the 1980s in Dallas. He marched with the group in the 2017 Unite the Right rally, the deadly white-supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville.
To be fair, politicians will pretty much take photos with any random member of their base to show that they’re of “the people.” Still, what does it say about Republicans that they can’t rub elbows with their own constituents without the risk of being associated with white supremacists?
Marjorie Taylor Greene, U.S. Representative-elect for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, had Doles removed from a campaign event in September—an event Loeffler also attended, according to the AJC. That came after Greene also posed for a photo with Doles at another GOP event.
Giving Doles the boot certainly makes sense from a political perspective, but let’s be real: Greene is a QAnon supporter who made a whole video ranting about the “Islamic invasion” producing Muslim elected officials in the U.S. She also claimed that “gangs and dealing drugs” are all that hold Black and Hispanic men back. She’s really surprised that a white supremacist is her No. 1 fan?
“Our friend Marjorie Greene is running for Congress,” Doles posted in March, the AJC reports. “She’s part of the Q movement. Good friend to have.”
And Loeffler isn’t much different. Despite her clinging to racists’ favorite proverb, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body,” she tried to keep the WNBA team that she co-owns from speaking out in support of Black Lives Matter. “I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement,” Loeffler said at the time. Well, you know who BLM haters have a lot in common with? White supremacists.
Anyway, Warnock’s campaign wasted no time denouncing his opponents perceived white supremacist affiliation.
“While Kelly Loeffler runs a campaign based on dividing and misleading Georgians, she is once again trying to distance herself from someone who is a known white supremacist and former KKK leader who nearly beat a Black man to death,” Warnock’s campaign spokesman Michael Brewer said, the Post reports. “There’s no acceptable explanation for it happening once, let alone a second time.”