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August 17, 1984 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-08-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

10 Friday, Auk-17, 1.1984- - THE DETROIT 'AWN NEWS

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Candidate with ties to Nazis,
Klan, Birchers to run in Nov.

BY JEFFREY GUYER

Staff riter

Gerald Carlson, 41, of
Wayne is going to run once
again as the Republican
candidate for Congress in
western Wayne County's
15th Congressional District
in November.
Defeated by U.S. Rep.
William Ford (D-Taylor) in
1980, Carlson, whose can-
didacy was officially re-
nounced by his party in
June, won the Republican
primary in that district on
Aug. 7 and will face Ford
again in the fall.
Carlson captured 54 per-
cent of the vote against
Westland insurance execu-
tive Glen Kassel, even
though party leaders took
the unusual stance of mak-
ing a primary endorsement
of Kassel.
What makes his victory
even more surprising, how-
ever, is the fact that Carlson
is known to have previous
ties with the American Nazi
Party, the Ku Klux Klan
and the John Birch Society.
Dick Lobenthal, Michi-
gan Region director of the
Anti-Defamation League of
B'nai B'rith, describes
Carlson as a "long-time
bigot" who has been in-
volved in the "hate move-
ment" for over 10 years. Ac-
cording to Lobenthal,
Carlson quit the Nazis and
the Klan because they "we-
ren't extreme enough for
him."
Taking into account
Carlson's somewhat "ques-
tionable past," the Republi-
can Party of Michigan, ac-
cording to chairman E.
Spencer Abraham, took a
very unusual position in the
15th District. Remaining
neutral in every other dis-
trict across the state, the
party intervened in this
race and voiced its support
for Kassel.
"We renounced his
(Carlson's) candidacy in
June when he first filed,"
said Abraham. "We didn't
want to be associated with a
man of his background
again."
According to Abraham,
party leaders were both as-
tonished and frustrated by
the news that Carlson had
emerged victorious from the
election.
Both Lobenthal and Ab-
raham attribute Carlson's
success to the low voter
turnout at the polls.
The fact that the party
has taken an unusual posi-
tion has had the effect of
putting Carlson in an un-
usual situation as well. In
any election, and this one
will be no different, the
party launches a state-wide
phone campaign, soliciting
support for the candidates
in every district. This year,
Carlson's name will not be
on the list. "Carlson will not
the included in any -party. el.

forts," Abraham said last
week. "He is on his own."
The 15th District is a
heavily Democratic one,
and no one feels that
Carlson's candidacy poses
any real threat to Ford. The
fact remains, however, that
Carlson, an outspoken
white supremacist, will be a
candidate in the November
race.
"It's reprehensible and
outrageous that a man of his
background could win when
the voters are aware of his
past," said Lobenthal.

"It's
reprehensible
and outrageous
that a man of his
background could
win when the
voters are aware
of his past."

Lobenthal, like the party
leaders in Lansing, gives
little credence to Carlson's
campaign. "It's conceivable,
but not likely that he could
win in November," says Lo-
benthal. "What I'm worried
about are the straight ticket
voters. The ones who will
vote straight Republican,
regardless of who's run-
ning."

Reaction from Ford's
office seems to carry on its
surface an aura of noncha-
lance. In a statement by
Nancy Barbour, Ford's
press secretary, on Tuesday,
it was announced that ''we
will run as we woul i
against any other candi
date. The only reason that
Carlson won in the 15th is
that he has a bigger name
than Kassel."
Carlson and Ford faced
each other in 1980 in
exactly the same situation
that now confronts them.
What is not widely known,
however, is that when Ford
was up for re-election in
1982, Carlson ran against
him again. Only then he ran
against Ford as a Democrat
in the Democratic primary.
Now it is 1984, and Carlson
is trying his hand at being a
Republican once again. Ac-
cording to a spokesman at
Ford's office, Michigan is
not the only state in which
Carlson has switched his
partisan affiliations.

Ford does not view
Carlson as a major hurdle in
November. He has been the
incumbent Congressman in
the 15th District for 20
years and, according to
Barbour, "will continue to
serve as he has in the past."
Carlson was unavailable
for comment on his candi-
dacy or his victory in the
primary.

NEWS

Reagan signs access bill

Washington (JTA) —
President Reagan signed
into law ,a bill prohibiting
public high schools from
banning gatherings of stu-
dents for religious or politi-
cal purpose outside of class
hours but on school prem-
ises, a measure widely pro-
tested by Jewish organiza-
tions.
The signing took place
amid reports that some
Reagan Administration
lawyers felt its language
would permit schools to
allow use of their buildings
by religious cults and ex-
tremist groups, a warning
issued repeatedly by major
Jewish organizations dur-
ing the measure's convo-
luted journey through the
Republican-controlled Se-
nate and then an initial de-
feat and subsequent ap-
proval by the Democratic-
controlled House just before
adjournment for the elec-
tion campaign.
Still another problem, be-
cause of assured constitu-
tional challenges, experts
said it was.doubtful that the

new law would meet its cen-
tral purpose of allowing
student groups to conduct
prayer sessions on school
premises, regardless o
stated non-interference
with regular school hour-
s.Four federal appeal
courts and state appellat
courts in New York an
California have barred
variety of religious activi
ties by student groups i
public schools, declarin
they were barred by th
First Amendment o
church-state separation.

The prospect, feared b
Jewish organizations an
pleasing to civil liberta
rians, that the bill woul
make room for cults and ex
tremist political groups, re
portedly was not precisel
what the President an
other supporters of schoo
prayer had set out t
achieve.
Michigan representative
David Bonior, George Cro
kett Jr., William Ford an
Sander Levin opposed th
legislation -- ,

.-

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