In a page seemingly taken right out of Donald Trump‘s white supremacist campaign playbook, a photo showing Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler smiling alongside a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a brutally racist history has gone viral this weekend. Chester Doles apparently posted the photo on his Facebook after the two of them posed while smiling at an event on Friday.
A pro-Jewish organization first brought attention to the photo. The group described Doles in part as someone who “nearly beat a Black man to death.”
ALERT: Kelly Loeffler just posed for a photo with Chester Doles, a former KKK leader who runs the white supremacist American Patriots USA.
In 1993, Doles nearly beat a Black man to death.
In 2017, he marched in Charlottesville.
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) December 13, 2020
The photo surfaced nearly three weeks before the incumbent Loeffler is scheduled to square off against the Rev. Raphael Warnock in a run-off election for her U.S. Senate seat. Warnock is African American.
Doles notably pleaded guilty to a hate crime in 1993 for brutally beating a Black man in Maryland because he was riding in a vehicle with a white woman. The Baltimore Sun reported at the time that “Doles’ agreement to testify in the beating case angered fellow Klansmen, including Robert Tweed, who calls himself the imperial wizard for the Territorial Klans of America.”
Loeffler’s campaign on Sunday issued a statement scrambling to distance itself from Doles.
“Kelly had no idea who that was, and if she had she would have kicked him out immediately because we condemn in the most vociferous terms everything that he stands for,” a spokesman for Loeffler’s campaign told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The photo may have confirmed lingering suspicions that Loeffler is a white supremacist.
She’s been publicly dog-whistling up a storm for months now, including referring to the Black Lives Matter movement as “fascists.” She even pulled out the “racist bone” card during a debate.
this is when you know people are racist. https://t.co/V8hClsOcfd
— deray (@deray) December 7, 2020
Most recently, Loeffler aired a TV ad falsely claiming: “Raphael Warnock called police thugs and gangsters. Hosted a rally for communist dictator Fidel Castro. And praised Marxism in speeches and writings.”
Her objective is clear: to stoke the flames of racism that are simmering in a state with a rich anti-Black history in an attempt to appeal to more voters at any cost.
The photo with Doles, whether she intended for it to be made public or not, will likely endear her to voters looking for any reason to vote against a Black candidate, despite her quiet disavowal of it.
This is America.
Down-Ballot Races Matter: Other Elections Of National Importance We Can't Ignore
1. Florida U.S. House Of Representatives: Pam Keith vs. Brian Mast
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My thoughts on the GOP COVID-19 response.— Pam Keith, Esq. (@PamKeithFL) October 25, 2020
It boils down to this: the team that got us into this mess, can’t get us out of it.
They lied to us. And THAT is an unforgivable sin.
2. Georgia U.S. Senate: Rev. Raphael Warnock vs. Kelly Loeffler2 of 7
3. Kentucky U.S. Senate: Amy McGrath vs. Mitch McConnell
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If you are angry over the seating of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, today would be a good day to help unseat one of the men responsible for putting her there 8 days before our election, Mitch McConnell.— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) October 27, 2020
Donate to Amy McGrath's campaign today. Text MCGRATH to 24007 https://t.co/vbKvG4YnKs
4. Maryland U.S. House Of Representatives: Kweisi Mfume vs. Kimberly Klacik4 of 7
5. Mississippi U.S. Senate: Mike Espy vs. Cindy Hyde-Smith
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My team asked me 20 questions.— Mike Espy (@MikeEspyMS) October 28, 2020
I gave them 20 answers.
I think you’ll enjoy them! pic.twitter.com/IGaJDMwxdb
6. Missouri U.S. House of Representatives: Cori Bush vs. Anthony Rogers
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.@CoriBush, a registered nurse and BLM activist, is the Democratic candidate for Congress to represent Missouri's 1st congressional district. In "The Next Wave," she talks about her support for Medicare for all, her experience with Covid-19 and more https://t.co/tka9C4slPa pic.twitter.com/iSCii0U0Xy— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) October 28, 2020
7. South Carolina U.S. Senate: Jaime Harrison vs. Lindsey Graham
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First @LindseyGrahamSC said that Black folks can do anything in SC... as long as they're conservative.— Jaime Harrison (@harrisonjaime) November 1, 2020
Now he says young women can have a place in America if they're pro-life and come from "traditional families."
Any other requirements we should know about, Lindsey? pic.twitter.com/mYnluXCONd