Election 2020

There’s a Nazi on the Ballot: How Could Illinois GOP Let This Happen?

Arthur Jones, an outspoken Holocaust denier, is likely to appear on the November ballot as the Republican nominee for a Chicago-area congressional district. Jones currently leads a group open to "any white American citizen of European, non-Jewish descent." (Marcus DiPaola/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

This year, Arthur Jones was able to do what the Illinois GOP never allowed him to do before. He’s running unopposed for the party’s 3rd Congressional District nomination on March 20, and there is no doubt that he will win, fulfilling a dream the former leader of the American Nazi Party has had since the 1970s.

John Ruberry, a self-described “alt-center” political blogger and pundit, blasted Cook County GOP Chairman Sean Morrison and Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider for “sleeping on duty” as Jones made his way onto the March 20 primary ballot as the party’s sole candidate.

“Gadflies never quit. Why couldn’t Morrison and Schneider digest that? Why didn’t they recruit a qualified write-in candidate to oppose Jones once he achieved ballot access?” Ruberry told the Prairie State Wire.

Well, they didn’t. Now Illinois Republicans are warning party members not to vote for Jones in the March 20 primary and most certainly not in November.

“The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones,” Schneider said in a statement. “We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the Third Congressional District.”

In the past, the Illinois Republican Party was always able to block Jones either by challenging nomination petition signatures, as the GOP did in 2016, or by offering an alternative candidate in the rock-solid Democratic district.

But Jones beat the Republicans to the punch in the 2018 primary by collecting petition signatures at the homes of voters, confirming they lived in the 3rd District. And then he didn’t file the petitions until Dec. 4, the last day of the filing period.

“Every time I’d run, they either, you know, object to me or they would have one or two candidates to run against me to drain votes from me,” Jones, a veteran of combat in Vietnam, told the Sun-Times.

“So I waited on the last day, December fourth to file my signatures. Turned them in fully expecting there’d be an objection, or there would be a candidate that they’d put up against me,” Jones explained.

The Illinois GOP never had a chance. Now they are stuck with Jones, a Holocaust denier and member of the American Nazi Party, as the district’s only Republican candidate. He is sure to win the GOP primary March 20 and advance to the November ballot.

“Our team immediately went to work to try to get those signatures questioned and get (Jones) thrown off. He collected good signatures, unfortunately, this time. He didn’t before,” admitted Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“…He snuck in and put in signatures on the last day at the last minute. He wasn’t even on the radar this time,” Rauner said.

Despite being branded as a neo-Nazi by the Anti-Defamation League – he briefly ran the American Nazi Party – Jones told CNN that he didn’t call himself a Nazi.

“Well, for the past 15-20 years, I have not had anything to do with the National Socialist Party on a formal basis,” Jones said. “I do not call myself a Nazi. I call myself an American patriot and statesman.”

Still, Republicans are scrambling to separate themselves from the 70-year-old whose website proclaims in “The Holocaust Racket” that “this idea that six million Jews were killed by the Nationalist Socialist government of Germany in World War II is the biggest, blackest lie in history.”

The seven Republicans who make up the Illinois GOP congressional delegation issued a statement which said they condemned the “racist views and candidacy of Arthur Jones.”

“This is not who we are as a party or as a country, and we urge civic-minded citizens to get involved in the political process to prevent non-party extremists like Jones from hijacking nominations,” read the statement.

The Chicago Tribune editorial board has also cautioned voters to not cast a ballot for Jones after he “slithered out of his hole in the ground,” no matter how loyal to the Republican ticket they might be.

The Tribune also attacked the Illinois GOP for not getting ahead of Jones’ candidacy.

“This is not a good look for the Illinois Republican Party,” the Tribune wrote. “Jones is an odious character who should have been challenged.”

Jones’ 2018 campaign has also put one of the congressmen who signed the delegation’s statement, Rep. Randy Hultgren, in the uncomfortable position of asking Republican voters to not vote for the GOP’s candidate.

“To me it’s really sad that this happened… I couldn’t disagree more with (Jones’) stated beliefs in so many different things. And it is absolutely against everything that I believe and everything that I work for,” Hultgren told the Sun-Times.

As for the Illinois GOP’s delayed reaction to Jones’ campaign, Hultgren said he hoped it would be a learning experience for the party.

“People make mistakes. Parties absolutely make mistakes. And this was one (where) someone should’ve been aware,” Hultgren said. “Hopefully we learned from it.”