Human rights advocates in north Idaho don’t expect a white supremacist to get very far in his bid for sheriff. Shaun Winkler is a candidate in the Republican primary for Bonner County’s top law enforcement office. Winkler’s critics say the best strategy is to ignore him.
Winkler was a young follower of Richard Butler, who headed the Aryan Nations for decades from his north Idaho compound.
The 33-year-old Winkler now identifies himself as a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Last year, he and a handful of followers attracted attention by picketing local taco stands in Coeur d’Alene.
Anti-discrimination advocates say Winkler’s faction of extremists is a small, loose-knit group. Members of the local human rights task force see his candidacy as a publicity grab. “I’m very very very confident that he will get one vote, maybe, from himself. And if he has some friends, maybe two or three votes," says Gretchen Hellar, the former mayor of Sandpoint, Idaho. "But he is certainly not going to be a factor in the race.”
Shaun Winkler has said he doesn’t intend to use the office of sheriff to advance his racist views.
North Idaho voters have faced other white supremacist candidates in the past. Richard Butler ran for mayor of Hayden in 2003, the year before he died. He got 50 votes, or about 2 percent.