Let’s see how various fringe candidates in Louisiana are intending to ride the Tea Party wave to electoral success.

1. Remember David Duke? Well, he’s planning a comeback, and he thinks it might be a promising time to begin a 2012 Presidential run. In preparation, he recently posted a video “Message to the Tea Party” where he praised their “European-American movement” as a worthy heir to the original Tea Party protests that presaged the Revolutionary War. Duke agrees with many Tea Partiers that illegal immigration is an existential threat to the country as we know it, and says that it will be his top issue if he decides to run. Duke repeats his long-held proposal to bring home overseas troops in order to secure America’s southern border. Surprisingly, Duke does share a complaint he has with the Tea Partiers, saying that there’s too much ethnic diversity on display at their rallies. That’s a new one. Touting his bona fides, he repeatedly reminds viewers that he received 65 percent of the “white vote” in his unsuccessful 1990 campaign for Senate against J. Bennett Johnston.

It is perhaps revealing that Duke thinks this election cycle might provide a receptive audience for his sick brand of racialist conservatism. Thankfully, Duke carries too much toxic baggage to be an electoral threat, but I wonder how a “clean” candidate would perform if he adopted Duke’s platform and softened the racialist framing by about 10 percent. In today’s charged political climate, would such a candidate be so wildly out of line with some of the other Tea Party candidates running for office?

Duke plans to go on a listening tour in all 50 states as he sets the stage for a presidential run. No word on whether he’ll be hawking copies of “Mein Kampf,” as he did from his State Senate office in Metairie, back in the day.

2. Vincent Bruno, a former member of the governing arm of the state GOP, who once served as David Duke’s “spiritual adviser,” plans to run for U.S. Senate against David Vitter. But he won’t challenge him as a Republican. Bruno aims to start a new party:

Bruno said he was “inspired by the success of the tea party movement.” While the tea party focuses on fiscal and constitutional issues, the Christian Party will place a greater emphasis on social issues and on “following Christ.”

Bruno has been mulling a run against Vitter for several years now. Back in 2007, while a guest on a nationally syndicated libertarian radio talk show, Bruno said that he intended to run against Vitter unless Vitter signed an affidavit declaring he had never had a homosexual encounter. I previously discussed this bizarre claim here, and it wouldn’t be noteworthy except that Bruno, despite his many faults, has a history of being correct about Vitter’s skeletons. Bruno was the first to correctly charge Vitter with patronizing a whorehouse. The media largely dismissed him at the time, but years later he was vindicated. So, will candidate Bruno of the “Christian Party” try to make affidavits about “homosexual encounters” an issue for Vitter?

3. Mike Spears is an independent businessman that is also running for Vitter’s Senate seat. Before running for office, Spears had a career designing and selling high-end custom clothing and furniture … for dogs. Things like lace outfits, handmade bedroom sets (with chandeliers) retailing for thousands of dollars. But now, like Bruno and Duke, Spears hopes to win high office with help from disenchanted conservatives and Tea Partiers.

At a recent Tea Party event, Spears spoke out against the President’s Deep Water Drilling Moratorium:

“The president has a big microphone when he speaks from the White House. The industry doesn’t have that mouthpiece,” said Mike Spears, a Lafayette resident running for the U.S. Senate. “This is our mouthpiece.”

So Spears will attempt to displace Vitter in hopes of providing a bigger mouthpiece for Big Oil in Washington. That’s pretty doggone amusing.

4. Senator Vitter, for his part, wants to keep the Tea Party within the Republican fold as much as possible. While true-believers in the Tea Party movement regard themselves as independent conservatives, Vitter sees them as “fuel” for Republican electoral success in November. How the votes will ultimately shake out is anyone’s guess. Will Tea Partiers  opt to “send a message” to career politicians like Vitter, and vote for lesser-known independents and upstarts? Or will they reward Vitter for his hard-right ideology, and his reflexive anti-Obamaism. One thing’s for sure: there will be a buffet of fringe candidates alongside Vitter, courting Tea Party support in November. Vitter would do well not to take them for granted.

Mark Moseley

Mark Moseley blogs at Your Right Hand Thief. Until mid 2014, Mark Moseley was The Lens' opinion writer, engagement specialist and coordinator for the Charter Schools Reporting Corps. After Katrina and...