BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who beat David Duke during a contentious 1991 gubernatorial race, says he was surprised to hear that Duke is now running for Senate.

Edwards told The Associated Press that Duke faces a "hard row to hoe" in the upcoming election but said there might be a "niche" for him.

He said that niche might involve capitalizing on racial unrest.

Edwards noted that unlike some other candidates in the crowded field, Duke already has plenty of statewide name recognition.

Duke signed up Friday to run for a seat being vacated by Republican David Vitter.

Both Edwards and Duke are convicted felons, with Edwards convicted of corruption and Duke of bilking supporters. Edwards' reputation for scandal and Duke's racial beliefs were central to the 1991 race.

Here's what other politicians, some candidates, had to say about Duke's qualifying.

Reaction from various people on the announcement that former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has qualified to run for U.S. Senate:

"There's a great deal of racial unrest in the country and he may capitalize on it....There might be a niche for him."

— Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who beat Duke during a contentious 1991 gubernatorial race.


"Louisianians want a real conservative leader to continue my work in the U.S. Senate. I'm confident they'll elect one, and that's not the sideshow that is David Duke."

— Current U.S. Sen. David Vitter, whose seat Duke is trying to fill.


"David Duke's destructive rhetoric and legacy have the potential to rip our state and our country apart. Louisiana knows better. I vow to stand up to anyone seeking to divide rather than to unite our people."

— Foster Campbell, a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission and Democratic candidate for Senate.


"The Republican Party opposes, in the strongest possible terms, David Duke's candidacy for any public office. David Duke is a convicted felon and a hate-filled fraud who does not embody the values of the Republican Party. The party of Lincoln and Reagan is one that recognizes the inherent value of every human life, regardless of age, religion or race. David Duke's history of hate marks a dark stain on Louisiana's past and has no place in our current conversation. The Republican Party of Louisiana will play an active role in opposing David Duke's candidacy."

— Roger Villere, chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana.


Louisiana voters have several GOP candidates "who will have a great impact on the Bayou State and future of our country. David Duke is not one of them. He will not have the support of the NRSC under any circumstance."

— Ward Baker, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee.


"The recurrence of a cancer like David Duke was encouraged and made possible by the toxic climate of racism and fear-mongering dominating the Republican party in this election cycle. With the GOP having formally nominated a sexist, xenophobic demagogue, and with their statewide candidates here in Louisiana working to elect that same sort of hatred and divisiveness to the presidency--- it's inevitable that a racist horror like Duke would be emboldened to run, and to run as a Republican. This is the climate they created: David Duke and Donald Trump are the twisted face of the Republican Party."

— State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party.


"I strongly denounce the racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism of David Duke. His views are a relic of ancient history and are repugnant to Louisianians. This election isn't about looking backward - it is about uniting our state to build a better future together. David Duke's candidacy in this race will be a disgraceful sideshow, and nothing more."

— U.S. Rep. Dr. Charles Boustany, a Republican candidate for Senate.


"I have a message for David Duke and anyone who might be inclined to support him: Your influence in Louisiana is over. Let me state right now in the plainest, most unequivocal terms--David Duke and the hate he espouses, the disgusting fear mongering he uses to prey upon people, his blatant racism, and every other vile thing he represents have no place in civil society, much less in the United States Senate."

— Caroline Fayard, Democratic candidate for Senate.


"David Duke's brand of hate is not wanted or welcome. Without question, I condemn his entrance into the race."

— Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, who is running for Senate


"We must_in the strongest of terms available_denounce the politics of division from any source. It goes against everything I fought to defend with my military service. I'll be damned if I allow David Duke, Al Sharpton, or any agitator to make a mockery of our nation or the great state of Louisiana. ... I emphatically denounce every opportunist that would seek to divide our great nation."

— Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, a Republican candidate for Senate


"Dr. (John) Fleming has always rejected all forms of racism, discrimination and prejudice. He is wholly focused on uniting Louisiana voters of all races, creeds and religions behind his hopeful message of freedom, liberty and security."

— Matt Beynon, communication director for U.S. Rep. John Fleming, a Republican candidate for Senate.


"You have a climate that certainly — at this point in time in our country and our state — that highlights and stresses the divisions within us, a climate that in so many ways has a strong racial overtone and challenge to it. ... I think that we have a political climate that is certainly ripe for the message that David has been able to espouse for many years."

— Raymond Jetson, an African-American pastor in Baton Rouge who served in the state Legislature during the same time as Duke.


"Many, many years ago he woke up the consciousness of this country and this state just like Trump is doing to the country. ... He's a nice guy. I would like to see what he will do to make Louisiana better."

— Maria Fox, a 68-year-old housewife, originally from Nicaragua who now lives in Metairie, Louisiana, who said she was pleased that Duke is running for office.


"It's symptomatic of the license that seems to have been issued for racism and discrimination. I would actively work against him."

— Pam Kanewske, a 59-year-old kitchen and bathroom designer who lives in New Orleans and a registered independent.


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