Sen Jason Rapert has backed out of a debate with his Democratic opponent Maureen Skinner because she said in a Twitter comment that he was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
The Log Cabin Democrat in Conway is sponsoring a candidate forum Oct. 15. Rapert had planned to take part. But he issued a statement saying he would not. He cited her statement in a Tweet Sept. 24 about the KKK, which he called a “known violent hate group.” He continued:
This type of accusation, which is completely false and despicable, has no place in the political arena. Furthermore, it is this type of reckless accusation that can incite violence and have consequences to the senator and his family. Senator Rapert has always participated in public forums and debates in all three of his previous elections, but he has never had a candidate personally publish a statement they know to be untrue that creates danger for himself, his family and participants in a public venue.”
But is it wholly false? I’ve asked Skinner for her reference point. We do know this — the leader of the KKK and Rapert have some views in common. That was evident when neo-Nazis turned out in protest of a religious freedom rally by the Satanic Temple, part of a campaign against Rapert’s 10 Commandments monument on the Capitol Grounds.
One of those standing between Baphomet and the Capitol with a Confederate battle flag was Thom Robb, the national director of the Knights Party of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Well, we came here because of the Satanists having their demonstration. So we came out here, not as a protest, but just as a witness. Stand as a silent witness for our Christian faith and Christian nation.”
Rapert himself has frequently proclaimed the U.S. a “Christian nation.” And he’s heaped abuse on the Satanic Temple and its push for a Baphomet statue on account of the preference shown Rapert’s memorial. Rapert also has always been a nervous sort, reporting parking lot and other encounters with constituents to police and keeping guns stashed around his house. Based on long history, I also think you’re in more danger disclaiming KKK support than claiming it.
UPDATE: Skinner messaged me later that KKK support for Rapert’s 10 Commandments monument was what she referenced.
In any case, it is too bad the debate is off. We’ll be deprived of more Rapert namecalling of Skinner — “atheist” and “liberal” being two favorite epithets. Also, he’ll be able to dodge the question he was dodging in the Twitter exchange about paying Arkansas workers a living wage. But he is always entertaining.
The Oct. 15 forum — which sponsors noted had been suggested by Rapert himself — will go on as scheduled with other candidates. Rapert is still welcome, the news release said.