Kentucky Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin voted for a presidential candidate in 2004 who defended the Confederate flag, enjoyed the support of a racist group and was later labeled an "active white supremacist."
Bevin, who on Tuesday called for removal of the Jefferson Davis statue from the state Capitol rotunda, told National Review in a 2013 interview that instead of voting for incumbent George W. Bush or Democrat John Kerry, he opted to vote for Constitution Party candidate Mike Peroutka.
"I have a 'Peroutka for President' T-shirt from 2004 in my drawer," Bevin told the conservative publication.
Bevin's campaign did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday about the candidate's support for Peroutka's presidential campaign.
Never miss a local story.
Since last week's racially motivated shooting of nine people in Charleston, S.C., many Republicans have joined Democrats in calling for a purge of Confederate symbolism within state governments.
Bevin, whose running mate and four adopted children are black, was followed Tuesday by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in calling for removal of the Davis statue from the Capitol.
According to The Associated Press and other contemporary reports, Peroutka was endorsed by the League of the South, a group described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "a coalition of hard-line 'neo-Confederates' who espouse racist, anti-gay, anti-immigrant ideas."
During the 2004 race, Peroutka said the Confederate flag stood for "justice, decency, integrity and honesty," telling the League of the South in a speech that he was angry his home state, Maryland, had not seceded.
In 2012, the Human Rights Campaign labeled Peroutka an "active white supremacist and secessionist sympathizer."
More recently, Peroutka's family foundation donated a dinosaur skeleton, an Allosaurus fragilis, to the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky, which put it on display beginning Memorial Day weekend.
On its website, the museum reports that Peroutka "says this fossil is a testimony to the creative power of God and also lends evidence to the truth of a worldwide catastrophic flooding of the earth about 4,500 years ago as described in the Bible."
During last year's GOP Senate primary race, in which McConnell easily defeated Bevin, McConnell's campaign ran an early ad that made mention of Bevin's vote for Peroutka, casting it as "effectively" a vote for Kerry.
In Kentucky in 2004, Bush won the state with more than 1 million votes. Kerry came in second with just more than 712,000. Peroutka came in fifth — behind independent Ralph Nader and Libertarian Michael Badnarik — with 2,213 votes.
During his interview with National Review, Bevin said, "In '04, I was just so fed up with the choices that we were given."
Earlier this week, Politico reported that Bevin was among many Republicans to receive financial contributions from white supremacist Earl Holt, president of the Council for Conservative Citizens.
On Tuesday, Bevin campaign manager Ben Hartman said Bevin and running mate Jenean Hampton would both contribute $500 to the Warren County NAACP.
Also Tuesday, Bevin called for removing the statue of Davis, a Kentucky native and president of the Confederacy, from its place in the Capitol rotunda and moving it to a museum.
Democrat Jack Conway did not immediately follow suit, saying instead that he was "open" to the idea but that he wanted to talk to historians and black community leaders first.
By Wednesday morning, Conway said he had held those conversations and though the statue should be removed.
"I believe that the Jefferson Davis statue belongs in a museum, where history is taught, rather than in the State Capitol, where laws are made, where rights are upheld, and where we strive for equal justice under the law," Conway said in a statement.