Judge dismisses GOP lawsuit to remove Darrell Leon McClanahan III from governor’s race

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Jefferson City, Missouri – A white supremacist candidate, Darrell Leon McClanahan III, will stay on the Missouri GOP’s ballot for governor. This decision follows a state judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit by the Missouri Republican Party, which sought to remove him from the August election. The GOP’s effort came after February photos showed McClanahan giving a Nazi salute with a hooded KKK member. Despite this, it’s too late to remove his name from the ballot, where he will appear alongside Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, and state Senator Bill Eigel. Missouri Republican voters will now decide if they want a “pro-White” candidate for governor.

“The Plaintiff did not present to the Court any evidence that having McClanahan on a primary election ballot would cause it any injury,” wrote circuit court Judge Cotton Walker in his ruling Friday. “McClanahan’s presence on the primary election ballot is not necessarily an endorsement of the candidate by the party.”

McClanahan’s racist views were known before he filed to run. This isn’t the first time the Missouri GOP accepted his candidacy paperwork. He previously ran for U.S. Senate in 2022, finishing fifteenth out of 21 candidates, with over 1,100 votes.

McClanahan hasn’t denied his connections to white supremacist groups. Instead, he downplays them, claiming he is merely an “honorary” member of the Knight’s Party Ku Klux Klan, not a formal one. He aligns himself with the Christian Identity sect, a racist religious group, and has attended events by the Arkansas-based Christian Identity Klan, including a cross burning, which he referred to as a “religious Christian Identity Cross lighting ceremony.”

Read also: Missouri teenager enters plea deal in Indiana state trooper’s death case

In 2017, McClanahan took part in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally and wrote favorably about the experience in the Knights Party’s newsletter, The Torch, documenting his shift towards extreme far-right, race-based beliefs.

His attorney, Dave Roland, praised the court’s decision, telling the Columbia Missourian that it prevents party leaders from having “almost unlimited discretion to choose who’s going to be allowed on a primary ballot.”

Read also: Jefferson City receives $14.1 million for wastewater system upgrades

“I’m not sure they ever actually intended to win this case,” Roland told the publication. “I think the case got filed because the Republican Party wanted to make a very big public show that they don’t want to be associated with racism or antisemitism. And the best way that they could do that was filing a case that they knew was almost certain to lose.”

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