In the campaign for whom will represent the 3rd Illinois Congressional District, which includes part of northern Will County, the race hardly is a toss-up.
It’s all but certain incumbent Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs, will be re-elected for his eighth term in Congress. He ran unopposed in 2016 and beat his general election opponent in 2014 by nearly 30 points.
But there is something different about the 2018 race. Lipinski’s opponent is Arthur Jones, 70, of Lyons, a Vietnam veteran, former insurance salesman, perpetual candidate for public office and Holocaust denier.
Jones also is a former member of the National Socialist or American Nazi Party, which he said he belonged to from 1971 to 1980. He argued it is technically incorrect to call him a Nazi or a neo-Nazi, as multiple media outlets have described him. But he does openly refer to himself as a “white racialist,” and he does not shy away from his anti-Semitism.
His website contains a section titled “Holocaust?” in which he posted literature that he argues shows the atrocities committed against Jewish people in Nazi Germany during World War II were, at least, exaggerated. He described the Holocaust as an “international extortion racket by the Jews to bleed, blackmail, extort and terrorize their enemies into silence or subservience.”
“What a bunch of crap,” Jones said in disputing the fact that 6 million people were killed in the Holocaust. But he also added his denial of the Holocaust is not the focus of his pitch to the people of the 3rd District, and, he claims, it rarely comes up when he talks to voters.
“It’s not part of my campaign anymore,” Jones said.
The rest of his policy priorities include ending the wars and sanctuary cities, making English the official language of the U.S. and ending “treasonous” trade policies. Another main policy is what he calls the Neighborhood Amendment “to prevent the destruction of our schools and neighborhoods by aggressive gangs and drug dealers.”
Jones proposes allowing communities to essentially vote against what he describes as the federal government’s efforts to increase racial, sexual and religious diversity.
Jones has mixed views on President Donald Trump. He said he would give Trump an “A” grade on domestic policy and a “D+” on foreign policy, mainly because of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move many pro-Israel supporters have praised.
This isn’t the first time Jones has run for public office. The Illinois GOP successfully contested his petition signatures when he ran for Senate in 2016 and knocked him off the ballot.
But this cycle, Jones said he was very “low-key” in collecting signatures and waited until the last day to file his petition. The Republicans were unable to successfully challenge him this time.
In an email statement, the Illinois GOP said, “Unfortunately in 2018, Jones gathered a sufficient number of valid signatures to gain ballot access, even after ILGOP review. The Party has never given Jones a free pass.”
State GOP Chairman Tom Schneider has spoken out against Jones, saying the country “has no place for Nazis” such as Jones, and they “strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office.”
There was no other Republican candidate who decided to run in the primary, so Jones won the nomination by default in March. He earned about 20,000 votes in the 3rd District, including 4,139 in Will County.
The Illinois GOP said it was working to recruit a write-in candidate to run in the November general election. That deadline is in September.
Jerry Hurckes, a spokesman with Lipinski’s campaign, said while they would be willing to debate Jones if a “legitimate” organization sponsored it, they aren’t trying to give him much attention.
“It’s really a fine line of how you deal with it,” Hurckes said. “I think sometimes the best way to handle it is not to acknowledge it.”
Others, such as Ed Ronkowski, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Will County, attribute the lack of a solid Republican challenger to the district’s gerrymandering. He argued having a district drawn to virtually guarantee a Democratic representative can turn away Republican candidates – something with which Jones agrees.
But overall, whether it is the Illinois GOP, big names such as Ted Cruz, or longtime Republicans such as Ronkowski, they repudiate Jones and his beliefs.
“The Republican Party is the party of equality,” Ronkowski said. “He’s not affiliated with my beliefs. He’s not affiliated with the Republican Party’s beliefs.”