Candidate with KKK ties can stay in Missouri governor race, judge rules

Candidate with KKK ties can stay in Missouri governor race, judge rules

A Missouri candidate for governor with reported ties to the Ku Klux Klan will remain on the ballot despite his own party’s efforts to oust him, a state judge has ruled.

The state’s Republican party sued to stop Darrell McClanahan from appearing on the GOP primary ballot this August. The Missouri GOP initially accepted him into the party but later denounced Mr McClanahan after discovering photos of him making the Nazi salute, the Associated Press reports.

On Friday, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Cotton Walker ruled that he can participate in the gubernatorial race.

Darrell McClanahan, pictured, will remain on the Missouri primary ballot after the GOP sued to remove him when they discovered photos of him doing a Nazi salute (Darrell McClanahan)

Mr McClanahan’s attorney Dave Roland said the ruling ensures that party leaders do not have “almost unlimited discretion to choose who’s going to be allowed on a primary ballot,” according to The Guardian.

The candidate also has ties to the KKK, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The organisation said in 2022 that Mr McClanahan adheres to the religious sect Christian Identity, which espouses racist and antisemitic beliefs and is heavily influenced by the KKK. Mr McClanahan later sued the organisation for their 2022 article but his case was dismissed.

Mr McClanahan also posted a membership card in 2019 to the League of the South, a white supremacy group that advocates for the southern US to secede, according to the ADL.

This isn’t the candidate’s first time vying for office. Mr McClanahan ran in the state’s US Senate primary in 2022. He lost, receiving less than 1 per cent of votes.

The gubernatorial candidate described himself as “pro-white” but rejected ADL’s claims he was racist or antisemitic. He also said he never joined the KKK, claiming he only received a one-year “honorary membership”.

He faces several primary challengers this summer as Republican Governor Mike Parson finishes his final term in office.

Another far-right GOP candidate in Missouri also sparked controversy this week. Valentina Gomez, who is running for Missouri’s Secretary of State, posted a video on Sunday disparaging the LGBTQ+ community.

“In America, you can be anything you want,” she said. “Don’t be weak and gay. Stay f****** hard.” The video then cuts to a photo of Ms Gomez holding a gun.

The video prompted immediate backlash, with users mocking the bizarre video and condemning the anti-LGBTQ+ statement. Earlier this year, Ms Gomez posted a video of her using a flamethrower to burn LGBTQ-themed books. X restricted the video soon afterward, stating it “may violate X’s rules against Hateful Conduct.”