Washington (CNN)Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke suggested on Wednesday he might primary Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, after Scalise distanced himself from an event hosted by Duke's white nationalist group.
David Duke 'just might' primary Steve Scalise
During an interview on the Jim Engster Show, audio of which was obtained by BuzzFeed, Duke calls Scalise a "sellout" for saying his appearance at a meeting of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization in 2002 was a "mistake."
"He's a sellout," Duke said. "He's not David. He used to say that he was David Duke — of course, without the baggage, whatever that means."
"It wasn't a Klan meeting. It wasn't any sort of a radical meeting, it was a meeting that said there was European-American rights, right? So he is a sellout, right? Because, you know, he can't meet with members of his own district who have opinions like I have, but he meets with radical blacks who have total opposite political positions than him," he added.
Duke said that a majority of the voters in Scalise's district voted for him when he ran for statewide office in Louisiana, and that by apologizing for attending the conference, Scalise is "insulting" his constituents.
And while he admitted he's not registered to vote in Louisiana, he "might just register" in order to run against the congressman.
"I just might have to run against Steve Scalise because you know — I really might. I mean, I'm definitely going to consider it because it's so disgusting to me to see ... he got elected on false pretenses," he said.
Scalise weathered calls to resign after a local political blog uncovered postings indicating he spoke to the group over a decade ago. The congressman first said he didn't remember speaking to the group, then apologized, and later conflicting accounts of the event raised questions about whether he spoke to the conference itself, or simply to a group of interested locals before the conference started.
House leadership stood by the majority whip, and talk of the scandal has died down in recent weeks. But he does represent a deep-red district, and there had already been talk of a primary challenge — from former tea party-backed Senate candidate Rob Maness.
If both Maness and Duke challenged him, however, Louisiana's jungle primary system — in which the top-two vote getters head to a runoff if no candidate gets more than 50% in a primary — would give Scalise a better-than-even shot at re-election.