“Arthur Jones isn’t a Republican, and we’re going to expose people to who he really is and do everything we can to educate Republicans not to vote for Arthur Jones,” state GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said.
Still reeling from a national embarrassment two years ago, the Illinois Republican Party is launching a late primary five-figure ad blitz against Holocaust denier Arthur Jones in the Southwest Side and suburban 3rd Congressional District, targeting the avowed anti-Semite with robocalls, mailers, digital ads and face-to-face warnings to voters.
The five-member Illinois Republican Congressional delegation is also endorsing Will County Board Member Mike Fricilone for the GOP nomination, calling him a “very clear choice” and an antidote to Jones, whom they call a “fake Republican.”
“Arthur Jones isn’t a Republican, and we’re going to expose people to who he really is and do everything we can to educate Republicans not to vote for Arthur Jones,” state GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said. “We’re going to do everything we can to distance ourselves from this Neo-Nazi who is running as a Republican.”
While attention has centered on the Democratic primary and whether U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski can cling to victory over challengers Marie Newman and Rush Darwish, political observers are also curious just how many votes Jones may get in the March 17 primary.
In 2018, Jones caught the GOP by surprise and wound up running unopposed in the primary after party leaders failed to field an alternative candidate in the heavily Democratic congressional district.
The Chicago Sun-Times first revealed that the former leader of the New American Nazi Party was on track to win the GOP nomination. The story was picked up by media outlets across the nation, and Republicans were ridiculed by late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert for running an “actual Nazi.”
In that year’s November general election, Jones got 57,885 votes to Lipinski’s 163,053.
But this time, Jones faces two other Republicans in the primary: Fricilone and Catherine O’Shea, a real estate broker from Oak Lawn.
The Illinois Republican Party, along with the Will County Republican Party and the Cook County Republican Party, plan to announce the anti-Jones campaign on Thursday and also endorse Fricilone, the Republican leader of the Will County Board. One ad includes a photo of Jones with the words “Arthur Jones Is Not A Republican. Arthur Jones Is A Nazi. Seriously. Vote No On Arthur Jones on March 17th.” A digital ad says “Say No To The Nazi.”
Jones, 72, is a retired insurance agent from Lyons who has run for the GOP nomination eight times before in the 3rd Congressional District. He’s also an outspoken Holocaust denier, anti-Semite and white supremacist who founded the American First Committee. Its membership is limited to “any white American citizen of European, non-Jewish descent.”
This year, records show Jones collected 844 signatures in Palos Hills, Hickory Hills, Stickney, Oak Lawn, Bridgeview, Worth, Countryside, Bedford Park, La Grange, Chicago Ridge, Hometown, Lyons and Willow Springs. Just over 600 signatures were required to get on the ballot. He also managed to get one Chicago voter to sign his petitions. No Chicagoans signed his petitions for his 2018 run.
The party said Republicans in the district will receive multiple mailers, see five to seven digital ads on average and hear from a volunteer at their door or on the phone.
Cook County Republican Chairman Sean Morrison and Schneider said they plan to record a robocall as well.
“We have plans to spend upwards of $50,000, and as more money is raised, that money will go directly to defeating Nazi Arthur Jones,” party spokesman Joe Hackler said.
There are just 12 days until the primary, but Morrison and Schneider insisted it’s not too late to push their message. Early voting began on Monday.
“It’s so important that we get the word out because frankly, as you’re aware, most of the general electorate, they’re busy living their lives,” said Morrison, who is also a Cook County commissioner. “They don’t necessarily drill down a name, and with Art Jones, they don’t really know who he is.”
Morrison said the push is needed to stem the “utter embarrassment” of Jones’ primary victory in 2018.
The party has taken plenty of heat for the win, even though there were efforts to challenge Jones’ petitions. How did Jones win? Republicans hadn’t bothered to muster a credible candidate because the district is so Democratic. And Jones took his petitions door to door himself, taking care to have valid signatures — preventing him from being knocked off the ballot.
Jones, who couldn’t be reached for comment, said previously that his views on the Holocaust are a non-issue.
“It never comes up. When I got my signatures, nobody asked me about the damn Holocaust,” Jones told the Sun-Times in 2018. “It’s totally irrelevant to my campaign. Totally irrelevant.”
Schneider said the party’s executive committee took the rare decision last week to endorse in the race. The party typically does not endorse candidates in the primary election.
“They agreed that we should make this endorsement and get involved in this race,” Schneider said. “It was, of course, a no-brainer because we don’t want this type of person as part of our party.”
The party is still reeling from the vacuum left by the political departure of former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who had been a multi-million dollar donor to the party when he was governor. The party has just $109,000 cash on hand, records show.
But Schneider said it’s all hands on deck for the anti-Jones campaign.
“We’re just beginning to work on getting major donors but we know, truly as a Republican Party that we’ll probably never outraise [Gov. J.B.] Pritzker[‘s] money, but I think we have the right message and the right candidate to win with less money,” Schneider said. “And we’re working on a major donor program.”