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Spirited Governor’s Race Opening Pocketbooks Across the Nation With AM-Louisiana Governor, Bjt

November 15, 1991 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is pulling 10 times the number of campaign contributions as Edwin Edwards in the Louisiana governor’s race, and opening checkbooks nationwide.

But what Edwards lacks in numbers, he’s making up in dollars - raising nearly a $1 million more than Duke, who has gotten checks from across the nation and from Mexico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

In the final days, contributions are running almost as high as emotions in the closely-watched race that will be decided in Saturday’s runoff.

″The Duke people are sending him money because they like his philosophy, what he stands for,″ said Silas Lee, a New Orleans pollster. ″For Edwards, it’s business; they have something to protect. They have, or want to do business in the state and know he has a proven track record.″

Duke, a maverick Republican, is matched against Edwards, a Democrat and former three-term governor whose administrations were tainted by scandal.

Gov. Buddy Roemer, who defeated Edwards four years ago, finished third in the state’s Oct. 19 primary.

Campaign reports for the 19-day period that ended Oct. 27 show Edwards raised nearly $1.2 million during that time, bringing his total to $2.3 million. Duke received $544,459, for a total of $1.4 million.

Ideology, personality, emotion and fear have opened pocketbooks.

″My views are David Duke’s views,″ said Narcisus Roger Diaz of Florida, listed as a $50 contributor to Duke. ″The man was a KKK member. Big deal. The KKK is no worse than being a Democrat or a Republican.″

″It’s absolutely critical that Edwin Edwards be elected,″ said New Orleans attorney Jack Pierce Brook, who contributed $5,000. ″He’s the only one that has the skills and the ability to get us out of this mess in Louisiana.″

In the battle for campaign contributions, Duke has collected from 49 states, Canada, Mexico, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. North Dakota is the only holdout among the 50 states.

People, companies and political action committees in New York, Florida and Las Vegas are among Edwards’ financial backers.

The records show Duke’s contributors are many but most make only small donations. Out of 20,000 contributions, 80 percent have amounted to $50 or less.

R.K. Hoover of Waco, Texas, sent Duke a $5 contribution.

″Seems like all the other politicians go out and kowtow to any race that has the right to vote,″ Hoover said.

Edwards’ 2,000 contributions have included checks from $1,000 to $5,000 from New York brokerage and financial companies, oil companies, and vendors who do business in the state. One $5,000 contribution came from a Las Vegas hotel.

Edwards also has received the maximum $50,000 he is allowed to take from political action committees. So far, Duke has no PAC money.

Joseph Mamo, a New York City investment banker, gave Duke $500.

″His talk about being a Nazi turned my stomach,″ Mamo said. ″But he claims to have recanted where he stood, and the line of his politics is straight down the conservative line.″

″My list shows our contributions are coming from all over, and that they believe in the same things we do down here - less government, welfare reform and less taxes,″ said Duke. ″Edwards is getting large contributions from special interests - out of state - not the grassroots people like we are.″

Overall, spending by Duke and Edwards will run around $5 million, far short of the $20 million spent in 1983 when Edwards defeated Republican Dave Treen. Since then, campaign finance reform has limited individual contributions to a maximum of $10,000.