Slow Burn: David Duke

Season 4: Episode 6

A Concerned Citizen

David Duke nearly became the governor of Louisiana. What did it take to stop him?


Episode Notes

In the fall of 1991, David Duke looked like a real threat to become the governor of Louisiana.

On the sixth and final episode of Slow Burn’s fourth season: What arguments did David Duke’s opponents make? Who did they hope to persuade? And what did it mean, in those four weeks in 1991, to stand up and be counted?

Season 4 of Slow Burn is produced by Josh Levin and Christopher Johnson. Mixing by Paul Mounsey. Slow Burn’s production assistant is Madeline Ducharme and Sophie Summergrad is the podcast’s assistant producer.

The last two episodes of this season are available only to Slate Plus subscribers. You can sign up by going to It’s only $15 for your first three months.

Sources for This Episode


Bridges, Tyler. The Rise and Fall of David Duke, University Press of Mississippi, 2018 (originally published in 1994).

Maginnis, John. Cross to Bear, Dark Horse Press, 1992.

Powell, Lawrence N. Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke’s Louisiana, University of North Carolina Press, 2019 (originally published in 2000).

Woods, Keith. “David Duke and the New Orleans Times-Picayune,” The Press in Times of Crisis, Westport: Greenwood Publishing, 1995.


Adams, Chris. “New Orleans’ newspapers give white view of the city,”, June 17, 1993.

Berry, Jason. “Duke Gets His Comeuppance From the Victims of His Hate Message,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 24, 1991.

Blaine, Charley. “Duke victory would cost La., execs say,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Oct. 26, 1991.

Bridges, Tyler. “Duke sells wares to slim audiences,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Nov. 15, 1992.

The Choice of Our Lives,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Oct. 27, 1991.

“An editorial: Roemer for governor,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Sept. 27, 1987.

An editorial: Edwards for governor,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Nov. 10, 1991.

Ganz, John. “The Year the Clock Broke,” the Baffler, November 2018.

L. D. Knox, Who Tried to Give Voters a Choice, Dies at 80,” Associated Press, May 28, 2009.

Lornado, Mark. “WDSU reporter flooded by calls for grilling Duke,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Nov. 8, 1991.

Maginnis, John. “The Hazards of Duke: Populism and Louisiana’s Ghosts,” the New Republic, Nov. 25, 1991.

Maraniss, David. “Alienated Middle Class Swells Ranks of ‘Dukies,’” Washington Post, Oct. 30, 1991.

Maraniss, David. “In Louisiana, Political Fear and Loathing,” Washington Post, Nov. 8, 1991.

“Most know Duke, few like him,” Times-Picayune, Nov. 13, 1991.

The only choice,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Nov. 16, 1991.

Powell, Lawrence N. “The Rise and Fall of David Duke,” American Scholar, Sept. 1, 2005.

Schleifstein, Mark and Tyler Bridges. “Duke’s Christian fervor contrasts with past views,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Nov. 1, 1991.

Suro, Roberto. “Duke Recasts His Religious Claims,” New York Times, Nov. 11, 1991.

Terry, Don. “In Louisiana, Duke Divides Old Loyalties,” New York Times, Oct. 31, 1991.

Walsh, Bill. “Anti-Duke voters help Edwards win,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Nov. 17, 1991.

Wardlaw, Jack, Bill Walsh, and Tyler Bridges, “Scramble for Roemer votes starts,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Oct. 21, 1991.

Woods, Keith. “Missing the point about Duke,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Oct. 28, 1991.


Louisiana Gubernatorial Debate,” Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Nov. 6, 1991.

Slate Plus Member Content Bonus Episode

Confronting Duke With His Own Words

TV news anchor Norman Robinson on watching David Duke’s rise in New Orleans.


About the Show

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a white supremacist became an American political phenomenon. David Duke’s rise to power and prominence—his election to the Louisiana Legislature, and then his campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the governorship—was an existential crisis for the state and the nation. The fourth season of Slate’s Slow Burn will explore how a Nazi sympathizer and former Klansman fashioned himself into a mainstream figure, and why some voters came to embrace his message. It will also examine how activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens confronted Duke’s candidacy, and what it took to stop him.

The season is hosted by Josh Levin, a longtime Slow Burn editor and native Louisianian.

All episodes