Arthur Jones slithered out of his hole in the ground in Lyons, Ill., to run for the United States Congress in a Republican primary election, and nobody stepped up to challenge him.
Jones -- a Holocaust denier, anti-Semite, neo-Nazi and white supremacist -- is running unopposed as a GOP candidate in a west suburban-based U.S. House race. That means any primary voter in the 3rd Congressional District who pulls a Republican ballot for the Illinois primary will see only Jones' name listed. He'll win the primary by default. The man who once dressed as a Nazi to march in Skokie will win a Republican primary.
This is not a good look for the Illinois Republican Party. It's evidently too late for party officials to do anything except ask Jones to drop out, which he's unlikely to do. "There is no room for Neo Nazis in American politics," Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday. Except there will be room for Jones on the GOP ballot. More bad news: The deadline passed for a primary election write-in candidate to register, though there is an opportunity for someone to run as a write-in or independent for the Nov. 6 general election. As for what to do in the primary, we hope Republican voters in the 3rd district are aware that Jones is a cretin and do not support him. The closer to zero votes he gets, the better.
How did this happen? Jones, a perennial candidate, snookered the GOP.
Nobody else ran as a Republican in the primary because politics is a results-oriented business and the chance of a Republican winning are slim. The boundaries were drawn by Democrats to elect a Democrat. Rep. Dan Lipinski, the incumbent, will face Marie Newman in the Democratic primary, and one of those two will win on Nov. 6. There are other Democratic strongholds in the Chicago area featuring a lone Republican. It can be a Maytag repairman-like assignment.
Still, Jones is an odious character who should have been challenged. He was a spokesman for the neo-Nazis who tried to march in Skokie in 1978, the Tribune once reported. His website lays out his hateful ideas. The Holocaust is a lie, he says. "I don't believe in equality -- period," he replied when a Tribune reporter asked whether African-Americans and Latinos should have the right to vote.
Jones is no mystery candidate. He's run for the U.S. House numerous times. He's campaigned to be a Chicago alderman, Chicago mayor and Milwaukee mayor. There's nothing to prevent a provocateur from seeking office, of course, but winning an election, even a Republican primary in a district rigged to elect a Democrat, is an honor he befouls. It's a shame Illinois Republicans weren't paying closer attention.
Jones, who campaigned for the same seat in the 2016 primary, was removed from the ballot that year after the Illinois Republican Party found paperwork errors and filed a successful objection to his candidacy with the state Board of Elections. The GOP tried to do the same this election cycle, but Jones had cleaned up his paperwork. He also appears to have kept a low profile, collecting signatures to meet eligibility requirements by going door-to-door and then waiting until the Dec. 4, 2017, deadline to file. If only others had noticed.
"He's not on any one of the party activists' radar," John Fogarty, the state Republican Party's general counsel, told us. "He's really not a Republican. He just sees an open spot."
This isn't the first time an embarrassing candidate has sneaked onto a ballot. We remember the Republican loser in the Democratic-heavy 9th Congressional District who warned that frigid temperatures and tornadoes reflected God's disdain for liberal Illinois politics. We've got other such crazy stories. There also have been smart, responsible Republicans who have run in Democratic districts and got creamed. Hoo boy, we have more respect for them than ever.
Lay part of the blame on gerrymandering, which creates districts that overwhelmingly favor one party. But also blame apathy. Remember Scott Lee Cohen? He somehow won the 2010 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. Only then did voters learn he was a deadbeat dad dogged by allegations of domestic violence.
So remember, 3rd Congressional District Republicans: Please don't vote for Arthur Jones the neo-Nazi. And please consider mounting a write-in or independent candidacy for the November election. Your fellow party members, and your country, will thank you.
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