Shaun Winkler, a Republican candidate for sheriff in Kootenai County, Idaho, showed off a slice of his family life last Friday. After clearing it with friends and family, Winkler allowed reporters to attend a monthly get-together at his compound. Winkler, a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a former staffer for the Aryan Nations, was hosting an old-fashioned cross-burning.
Cameron Rasmusson of the nearby Coeur d'Alene Press attended the family get-together and filed this report
The evening began like many a family picnic elsewhere in the country. Group members barbecued and enjoyed a congenial meal with one another. Afterward, Winkler called everyone's attention to speak for about a half-hour on the racial, political and social groups they opposed. Finally, once darkness fell, the evening concluded by setting a wooden cross afire.
Winkler is competing for the Republican nomination for sheriff in a May 15th
primary. He’s expected to lose badly, but in the meantime he’s participating in candidate forums and clarifying his anti-Jew, anti-“negro,” anti-sex crime platform. Rasmusson reports
On Monday, he participated in a candidates forum at the Blanchard Community Center. He continued to insist his Ku Klux Klan ties would not impact his performance as sheriff or make him susceptible to racial profiling. Instead, he would focus on tough stances regarding drugs and alcohol.
"Most people don't know that we don't just oppose the Jews and the negroes," he said. "We also oppose sexual predators and drugs of any kind."
Winkler added that if he had his way, perpetrators of sexual crimes would be hung immediately.
Winkler has previously made a name for himself by picketing a Martin Luther King Day celebration in January, and according to Reuters
, last year “Winkler and a handful of followers demonstrated at taco stands to target Latinos in Coeur d'Alene.” Officials and residents of Kootenai County worry that Winkler “will hamper efforts to dispel an image that the northern Idaho region is a haven for hate groups and extremists.” After all, Northern Idaho has traditionally been a hotbed
of radical white supremacist activity, and Winkler worked for the man long at the center of it, Richard Butler
Janice Schoonover, owner of a local vacation spot, complained to Reuters
that Winkler’s campaign “just stirs the pot and makes us seem like something we're not, complaining that the area hadn’t “been able to shake that stereotype of white supremacists, and it's really unfortunate and unfair.”
But that’s probably premature. Winkler isn’t operating alone, and the Kootenai County Constitution Party recently protested
a sculpture of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity, calling it “an abomination.”