Louisiana Republicans on Saturday endorsed a New Orleans state senator to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, decisively rejecting a bid by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who is now a state representative.
Delegates at the statewide convention picked state Sen. Ben Bagert over Secretary of State Fox McKeithen, state Rep. Quentin Dastugue of Metairie and Duke, also of Metairie.
Bagert garnered 451 votes. He was followed by Dastugue with 183, McKeithen with 99 and Duke with 52.
Bagert, 46, had been considered the front-runner for the party nomination after winning commitments from more than 350 of the 540 delegates chosen at party caucuses statewide Dec. 9.
The delegates elected at the caucuses, however, had not been required to support the candidate they said they would vote for.
Duke, 39, won no more than 50 delegates at the caucuses and party officials said previously that he had little support among party regulars. He said he would oppose Johnston regardless of whether he won the GOP endorsement.
Johnston, a three-term Democrat, heads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.