Missouri gubernatorial candidate with KKK ties can stay on GOP ticket, judge rules

A judge ruled Friday that a gubernatorial candidate in Missouri with alleged ties to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) can stay on the Republican ticket.

The Missouri GOP attempted to kick Darrell McClanahan out from participating in the August Republican primary, but Cole County Circuit Court Judge Cotton Walker denied the request, The Associated Press reported.

The current governor, Mike Parson (R), can’t seek reelection due to term limits. McClanahan joined a list of candidates vying for the seat, including Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, state Sen. Bill Eigel, among others.

McClanahan has described himself as “pro-white” and denies being racist or antisemitic. The Missouri GOP accepted his party dues but denounced him after it was exposed that he made the Nazi salute in photos.

The candidate had a lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League, where he said he was not part of the KKK. Records, however, she that he had received a one-year honorary membership, per the AP.

His lawyer said the ruling ensured that party leaders do not have unlimited discretion to choose who is allowed on the ballot. The Missouri GOP said it was not aware of McClanahan’s beliefs, but the candidate says that’s not true, since he ran as a Republican for a Senate seat in 2022.

The judge said the Republican Party can continue to “publicly disavow McClanahan” but denied the request to remove him from the ballot.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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