There are many ways to garner votes. A cross burning isn't usually one of them.
But this morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Bonner County sheriff candidate Shaun Winkler hosted a cross burning on May 4. Winkler and his fellow members of the Ku Klux Klan burned the cross on Winkler's property just outside of Priest River in Idaho's Panhandle.
"Generally, for a cross lighting, it's extremely rare we'd let any media there at all," Winker told the Press, but he also said that his group allowed public observation of the ceremony, which according to him, "was meant to express both camaraderie and religious devotion."
Winkler, in addition to his Klan membership, is also tied to the Aryan Nations and the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, according to the Press.
"Mainstream society looks at cross lighting as a symbol of hate, but it predates the Klan by hundreds of years," Winker told the Press. "We look at it more as a religious symbol."
Winkler is competing with incumbent Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler and Ponderay Police Officer Tim Fry for the Republican nomination on May 15. The winner in the primary will face independent Rocky Jordan in the general election in November.
At a candidate's forum, held May 7 at the Blanchard Community Center, Winkler told attendees that his Klan ties would not impact his performance as sheriff.
"Most people don't know that we don't just oppose the Jews and the negroes," Winkler said at the forum. "We also oppose sexual predators and drugs of any kind."