Derek Black, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard’s son who made a failed attempt to “infiltrate” the Palm Beach County Republican Party in 2008, has renounced his white nationalist past.
Black, a West Palm Beach resident who is now 24, outlined his “gradual awakening process” in a lengthy email to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok that was published last week on the group’s “Hatewatch” blog.
“I acknowledge that things I have said as well as my actions have been harmful to people of color, people of Jewish descent, activists striving for opportunity and fairness for all, and others affected. … I am sorry for the damage done by my actions and my past endorsement of white nationalism,” wrote Black, a family friend of David Duke.
“Derek is his own man. He is 24 years old and he can decide on his own what he can do,” said his father, Don Black, who left the Klan about 30 years ago and now runs a white nationalist website.
“We’ve been in kind of a funeral here for the last couple of days, but we still love Derek,” said the elder Black. He said since going away to New College in Sarasota, his son has given some hints over the last few months that his thinking had changed. But Don Black said he didn’t know Derek Black would make a statement to the SPLC until after it was published.
“He had to go to the Southern Poverty Law Center, of all people, who hate us, who hate me,” the elder Black said.
“I am sorry for the pain this has caused my family,” Derek Black told the Politics column in an email. “It is a difficult time for everyone involved and I love them dearly. I simply couldn’t remain an advocate for the politics.”
In 2008, when Derek Black was 19, he won a little-noticed precinct election for one of 110 county Republican Executive Committee seats. He told a white nationalist group at the time that it was part of a strategy to “infiltrate” the GOP by winning low-level party posts.
But the county GOP refused to seat Black, noting that he had failed to meet the deadline for signing a partisan loyalty oath. Besides that technicality, former county GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein said Black’s “white supremacist associations” should disqualify him.
Derek Black made another attempt to join the county GOP committee in 2010 but was defeated on an 87-19 vote of committee members. During his attempts to join the GOP, Derek Black denied being a white supremacist and described himself as “a white person who is concerned about discrimination against white people.”
Don Black said white nationalists are not white supremacists. He said supremacists favor segregation while nationalists are “separatists. … We hope to one day achieve our own country with our own borders with a government reflecting our interests.”
— Former state Rep. Carl Domino is hiring some high-profile help for his Republican campaign for the congressional seat of freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter.
Domino has retained Mitt Romney pollster Neil Newhouse’s Public Opinion Strategies firm. He has also hired veteran Florida GOP fundraisers Meredith O’Rourke and Ann Marie Milano for what is expected to be a multimillion-dollar campaign. Also on board: Greg Wilder as treasurer, a role he held with former Rep. Allen West’s campaign.
Domino hasn’t hired a general consultant. While he was exploring a candidacy, Domino got informal advice from consultant Randy Nielsen. But Nielsen’s Public Concepts firm has longstanding ties to state Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, who has not decided whether to enter the race.
Longtime Republican operative Larry Casey, who was a campaign and congressional aide to former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, is serving in an unpaid capacity as Domino’s chief strategist.
— Republicans face a 12.6-point registration disadvantage in Palm Beach County commission District 6, and there’s no guarantee GOP donors will automatically write checks for whoever ends up as the party nominee in the open 2014 race.
Democrat Kathy Foster demonstrated that in her initial fundraising report. Of the $15,465 the former Wellington mayor raised from contributors, at least $4,300 came from Republicans or businesses that are run by Republicans. Her GOP contributors included her husband, Michael Nelson, and builder Wally Sanger, the former business partner of current Commish Jess Santamaria.
Democrat Santamaria is leaving the western-county seat next year because of term limits, setting up a potential free-for-all to replace him. So far Foster and Democrat Fred Pinto, a Royal Palm Beach commissioner and Santamaria aide, are the only candidates who have filed.
Staff researcher Niels Heimeriks contributed to this report.