DAHLONEGA, Ga. — In north Georgia, Chester Doles a man who once described himself as a "fourth generation Klansman," is running for a local county commission office. According to him, he has merged with the mainstream of the Republican party.
Doles claims he used to be a white supremacist. Now he says he has hung up his family’s Klan robes in pursuit of local office.
"I’m a fourth generation Klansman. What do you think happened to the robes?" Doles asked during a September 2019 interview with 11Alive News. "They’re hanging up. They’re family heirlooms."
Doles was the man behind a raucous 2019 rally in Dahlonega in support of then President Trump – which drew hundreds of counter protesters.
Now, he is running for a seat on the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners.
"This critical race theory thing is one of the biggest motivations I’ve had," Doles told 11Alive News Friday. "It’s an anti-American racist agenda and it tries to send a sense of white guilt into innocent young children."
Doles doesn’t hide his history but said he has traded it in for Republican politics. "I denounce racism. I said it was youthful indiscretions," he explained Friday.
And when asked about Lumpkin County's and America's appetite for his message, Doles said "Well, its pretty much in line with all Republicans. We said it before it was popular."
Doles added he’s a supporter of Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who made mainstream her own brand of conspiracy theory extremism in her northwest Georgia district.
"There certainly seems to be an increasing appetite for people with these ideologies running for office," behavioral scientist Dr. Todd Helmus of Rand Corp. said Friday. "And maybe it’s not a surprise that it’s happening, given the increasing polarization in society and the rise of white supremacy in general over these last years."
Doles added that while he "might be a little radioactive" among mainstream Republicans, it doesn't matter. "I’m not asking for the Republican party’s assent nor am I asking for their blessing. This is a we-the-people grassroots movement," which he warned the GOP shouldn't dismiss.
Doles is currently facing incumbent Lumpkin County Commissioner Rhett Stringer. Stringer declined comment Friday.