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Duke's Rejection

LOUISIANA voters repudiated the politics of bigotry by a huge margin when they turned David Duke away at the door of the governor's mansion.The former neo-Nazi, grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and founder of a white-supremacy group based his campaign largely on opposition to affirmative action and welfare. These stances, in light of Duke's long involvement in skinhead politics, can only be regarded as veiled appeals to racism. Happily, Duke did not win the trust of a majority of voters despite dubious claims to a Christian rebirth. The unlikely beneficiary of this protest vote was Edwin Edwards, a former three-term governor who was tossed out by the voters in 1987. Twice indicted in office (though acquitted both times), Edwards is identified by many in Louisiana with the state's venerable tradition of corrupt, cronyistic government. A good number of those who voted for him did so with clothespins on their noses. Edwards's win is not a mandate for his former tainted style. In his campaign he promised to reform. We hope he was sincere. Edwards brings back into office a wealth of experience and political finesse that he could - if he's of a mind to - utilize to help revive Louisiana's economy. The state has never come out of the oil-patch doldrums of the mid-'80s. If Edwards can harness his experience and exuberance to the cause of economic development, he could still cap his checkered career with a period of genuine service to his state. Unfortunately, we probably haven't heard the last of Duke, and certainly not of his message, which appealed to campaign contributors in virtually every state. America needs to continue a meaningful dialogue on controversial issues like affirmative action - doubts about which are not based solely on racism. But it doesn't need a discussion packed with the values of the hate-fringe that launched David Duke.

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