Missouri Republicans try to remove man with ties to KKK from party ballot

Feb 29, 2024, 2:15 PM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Republican Party on Thursday denounced a GOP candidate for governor with ties to the Ku Klux Klan, saying party officials will go to court if necessary to remove him from the ticket.

Southwestern Missouri man Darrell Leon McClanahan, who has described himself as “pro-white,” was among nearly 280 Republican candidates who on Tuesday officially filed to run for office.

He is a longshot candidate for governor and faces a primary against Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, state Sen. Bill Eigel and others to replace Gov. Mike Parson, who is prohibited by term limits from running again.

The Missouri GOP posted on social media Thursday that McClanahan’s affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan “fundamentally contradicts our party’s values and platform.”

“We have begun the process of having Mr. McClanahan removed from the ballot as a Republican candidate,” the party tweeted. “We condemn any association with hate groups and are taking immediate action to rectify this situation.”

In an email to The Associated Press, McClanahan said he has been open about his views with state Republican leaders in the past. He made an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 2022, losing the GOP primary with .2% of the vote.

“The GOP knew exactly who I am,” McClanahan wrote. “What a bunch of Anti-White hypocrites.”

Missouri GOP Executive Director Miles Ross said the party is refunding McClanahan’s $200 filing fee and will ask him to voluntarily withdraw from the ballot. But Ross said the party will seek a court intervention if needed.

The Missouri Democratic Party on Tuesday refused to accept blacklisted state Rep. Sarah Unsicker’s filing fee, effectively blocking her from running for governor as a Democrat. House Democrats had kicked Unsicker out of their caucus after social media posts last year showed her with a man cited by the Anti-Defamation League as a Holocaust denier.

But because Republicans accepted McClanahan’s fee, any effort to force him off the ticket will require court intervention.

“It would take a court order for us to remove him from the ballot,” Secretary of State spokesman JoDonn Chaney said.

McClanahan sued the Anti-Defamation League last year, claiming the organization defamed him by calling him a white supremacist in an online post.

In his lawsuit, McClanahan described himself as a “Pro-White man, horseman, politician, political prisoner-activists who is dedicated to traditional Christian values.”

McClanahan wrote that he’s not a member of the Ku Klux Klan; he said received an honorary one-year membership. And he said he attended a “private religious Christian Identity Cross lighting ceremony falsely described as a cross burning.”

A federal judge dismissed McClanahan’s defamation case against the Anti-Defamation League in December, writing that his lawsuit “itself reflects that Plaintiff holds the views ascribed to him by the ADL article, that is the characterization of his social media presence and views as antisemitic, white supremacist, anti-government, and bigoted.” McClanahan has disputed the judge’s order.

Court records show McClanahan also is scheduled to be on trial in April on felony charges for first-degree harassment, stealing something valued at $750 or more, stealing a motor vehicle and first-degree property damage.

A judge granted a one-year protection order, sometimes called a restraining order, against him in 2008.

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Missouri Republicans try to remove man with ties to KKK from party ballot