GREAT FALLS- January 11th marked the first day to file for people competing in the 2018 elections.
One of the more interesting races could be shaping up in House District 21 in Great Falls, which is currently held by Democrat Tom Jacobsen, who is now running for state Senate.
Current state senator Ed Buttrey of Great Falls has filed as a Republican in the district. On the Democratic side, Leesha Ford and John Abarr have filed.
Abarr made headlines across the country in the past for aligning himself with the Ku Klux Klan.
His campaign website includes an apology which states, in part:
I am writing to apologize to the citizens of Montana for promoting bigotry and hate against minorities. First of all I would like to say that the whole Montana KKK group was just a hoax promoted by me. I created this hoax to infuse fear in the LGBTQ community and racial minorities in Montana. I’m a big ham and really enjoyed seeing my name in the paper and I relished having a reputation of being a Klan organizer. However my views have changed over a period of time and I would like to repair some of the damage I have caused. I now support LGTBQ rights and no longer view minorities as a dire threat to White people. I’m sorry for all the people I hurt using psychological terrorism and I truly believe that hate speech should be against the law.
The state Democratic Party issued a statement on his filing.
Communications director Roy Loewenstein said: “John Abarr is a failed former Republican house candidate with a revolting history of promoting white supremacy. His views have no place in Montana, and we condemn him and his campaign without exception.”
According to Abarr’s website, he wants to bring the Democratic Party back to its original roots.
We contacted Abarr for an on-camera interview as well as a statement, but he declined.
Bill Strizich, the Chairman of the Democratic Party in Cascade County in Great Falls, released a statement on Friday afternoon about Abarr’s candidacy.
The press release says: “A white supremacist, whose ties to the Ku Klux Klan are clear and unmistakable, formerly ran as a Republican. While he claims he perpetrated ‘a hoax’ in an attempt at humor and provocation of discourse, his continued reference to discrimination of ‘white people’ is clear and unveiled.”
“His political website is clear in his philosophy which could not be further in reference to any part of the culture of Cascade County and Great Falls, much less our party,” said Strizich.
Strizich said, “The Cascade County Democratic Party is incensed that he is running as a Democrat and we flatly disavow his candidacy. John Abarr is a charlatan and a dangerous self –promoter. Our work in this County is in part to help return honor and respect to all seeking public office whether a Democrat or any other affiliation. But, integrity and truth with transparency and ethical conduct is what we seek and expect.”