Nazi Runs as Republican in Montana State Race
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
In Butte, Montana, a self-described Nazi is running for state legislature. Shaun Stuart is a college student who served two tours of duty as a Marine in Iraq. He has filed to run for office as a Republican, much to the surprise of the Republican Party. Montana public radio's Hope Stockwell visited Butte and prepared this report.
HOPE STOCKWELL reporting:
The historic mining town of Butte in southwest Montana has been the state's biggest melting pot since immigrants first mined its gold, silver, and copper in the 1800's. Irish, Chinese, Italians, and countless others came seeking the best industrial wage offered at the time, $3.50 a day, but their coexistence could be rocky, says Ellen Crane, Director of Butte's Public Archives.
Ms. ELLEN CRANE (Director, Butte's Public Archives): Things that were going on in motherlands of immigrant people often were reflected locally. The Serbian and Croatian people oftentimes were at conflict. I think as time went on and people married people of other ethnic backgrounds, those lines have lurked. I think now, we are a lot more tolerant of peoples' differences in our community.
STOCKWELL: Crane sits at a green Formica-top table in Butte's old firehouse. Tomes of mining and labor records sit heavy on the wall's wooden shelves. Crane says the values that Shaun Stuart embraces go against the peace that Butte's desperate residents have built, but during lunch at Perkins Restaurant, it's clear celebrating cooperative diversity isn't what Stuart is about.
Mr. SHAUN STUART (Republican Candidate, Montana Legislation): I want Montanans to know that I am for the white working man and the white working woman. No one else is looking after white rights. I want to make sure that I am out there for those rights solely. They may not agree with my politics. They may not agree with my religion, but that's my right to run.
STOCKWELL: Stuart is of German-Scottish descent, tall, blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Dressed in a red polo shirt and black slacks, the 24-year-old college student vows not to drop out of the race. His comments draw looks from other restaurant customers. The couple behind him ask to be reseated.
Mr. STUART: If you had to label me down, it would be something like extremist conservative, but the only reason I am running going to the republican side is I know that the third-party system doesn't work. Some of my views are with the Republican Party, not all of them, of course; I mean, anti-gay, pro-guns, anti-abortion.
STOCKWELL: Stuart also supports more education benefits for his fellow veterans, and he wants to expand Montana's logging industry. He says he discussed these views with republicans while considering his candidacy over the last five months, but the local Republican Party says Stuart never revealed his ties to the National Socialist Movement, which builds itself as America's Nazi Organization. That was first reported by a local newspaper last weekend.
Chuck Denowh is Executive Director of the Montana Republican.
Mr. CHUCK DENOWH (Executive Director, Montana Republican): We don't do any sort of vetting of candidates. There's no litmus test for anybody to run. We really trust people to use the R system, and if they're going to file as republican, we trust them to be republican. It's not a question you think to ask people when they file for office; are you a Nazi, but I think this is an important lesson, to make sure that we know a little bit more about people, who they are, when they are filing for office.
STOCKWELL: Denowh says the Republican Party will actively campaign against Stuart, even though it means putting a democrat in office. It's a strange circumstance in the state where republicans are trying to regain control of the legislature they lost in 2004, but Butte is a democratic stronghold anyhow, due to its long relationship with unions at the mines. That's one of the biggest reasons there isn't another republican already in the running, do Denowh doesn't think Stuart stands a chance, but with only 5,600 voters in Stuart's district, he says he won't need a lot of resources to get out his message and sway voters his direction.
For NPR News, I'm Hope Stockwell.
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