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Missouri GOP says it plans to remove candidate for governor with ‘affiliation’ to KKK

The Republican Party of Missouri is working to remove a Republican candidate for governor from the ballot after a photo surfaced online showing the candidate saluting a burning cross.

The candidate, Darrell Leon McClanahan, is pictured in the photo next to a person wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe with a hood.

“The Republican Party of Missouri has been notified that Darrell Leon McClanahan III has filed for governor as a Republican despite his ties to the Ku Klux Klan, which is fundamentally inconsistent with our party’s values ​​and platform” , the party wrote on social media on Thursday.

“We have begun the process to have Mr. McClanahan removed from the ballot as the Republican candidate.”

The party’s statement said it condemned “any association with hate groups” and was taking immediate action to rectify the situation. Our party respects all individuals, and we are committed to decisively addressing any challenges to these principles.”

Representatives of the Missouri Republican Party did not immediately respond to a series of questions about when and how they planned to remove McClanahan from the ballot.

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McClanahan said in a response on social media that “the Missouri GOP knew exactly who I am.”

“What a bunch of anti-white hypocrites,” he wrote.

McClanahan’s name began circulating on social media last week, after the first day of candidate submissions. His name remains at the top of the list of Republican candidates for governor, according to the unofficial list of candidates on the Missouri Secretary of State Office website.

Shamed Dogan, a former Republican state representative from the St. Louis area, was among the first to call on the party to take action. Dogan, who is black, called McClanahan a “racist loser” in a social media post.

But this isn’t the first time McClanahan has run as a Republican in Missouri.

The Anti-Defamation League highlighted McClanahan’s photo in front of the burning cross in a 2022 article after he ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate.

McClanahan filed a more than $5 million defamation lawsuit against the organization last year, claiming the group was damaging his political career and demanding the article be removed.

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In court filings, McClanahan described himself as a “pro-white male” who is “committed to traditional Christian values.” He said in the lawsuit that he was never a member of the KKK, but was instead given a “one-year honorary membership” by a Missouri coordinator.

McClanahan, in response to a request for comment from The Star, sent a lengthy series of texts, claiming in part that “many newspapers are misquoting and making false accusations.” In one of the texts, he said he had received an honorary one-year membership in the League of the South — which condemns the ADL as a white supremacist group.

McClanahan said in the lawsuit that he “attended a private religious Christian Identity Cross lighting ceremony in 2019 that was falsely described as a cross burning” in the ADL article. According to the lawsuit, his presence was in response to a Charlottesville “Unite the Right” protester who was sentenced to prison for beating a black man.

According to the complaint, McClanahan felt this was an unjust punishment because a “black defendant” received a seven-year prison sentence for manslaughter. A federal magistrate judge dismissed the lawsuit last year, finding McClanahan had not sufficiently asserted a claim against the organization.

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“The complaint itself reflects that Plaintiff holds the views attributed to him by the ADL article, i.e., the characterization of his social media presence and views as anti-Semitic, white supremacist, anti-government, and bigoted,” the judge wrote in the order.

The McClanahan controversy comes as Missouri Republicans seek to retain control of the governor’s office after Gov. Mike Parson left office. Republican candidates include Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Sen. Bill Eigel.

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