Illinois GOP Trying to Stop Holocaust-Denier Candidate Who Received 20K Votes in 2018 Congressional Primary

The Illinois Republican Party said it's planning an awareness campaign aimed at derailing the 2020 candidacy of an anti-Semitic activist and Holocaust denier who managed to get back on the 3rd Congressional District ballot.

GOP congressional candidate Arthur Jones, 71, once again collected enough signatures from Cook County and southwest Chicago suburbs to appear on the ballot for next year's election. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported in 2018, Jones founded the American First Committee, which limits membership to white American citizens of European, non-Jewish descent. Jones pulled in 20,681 votes in order to grab the Republican primary nomination in 2018 and he went on to receive 57,885 votes in the Illinois House general election against Democrat Daniel Lipinski.

But expressing embarrassment over his 2018 nomination, Illinois GOP executive director Anthony Sarros told the Sun-Times this week they are stepping up a campaign to raise awareness of Jones' anti-Semitic beliefs among voters they say had no idea that was part of his platform.

The anti-Jones awareness campaign seeks to include social media ads and reminders to voters there are two other Republican candidates running for the House seat: Will County GOP Board Member Mike Fricilone and Oak Lawn real estate broker Catherine O'Shea.

"We want to make sure that the Republicans, Democrats, any Illinois citizens know that this is not a candidate that we support and we don't want him winning the election," Sarros said. " ... We hate this. we don't want this to happen and now I kind of want to know how this happened and how do we prevent this," Sarros told the Chicago newspaper on Friday.

As ABC 7 Chicago reported in 2018, Jones has run as a Republican in seven previous congressional elections. Speaking to reporters from the local news station in February 2018, Jones referred to the Holocaust as "an extortion racket, billions of dollars are extorted by Jews telling tall tales of woe and misfortune."

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider referred to Jones as a "disturbed Nazi" during the 2018 primary, which prompted Jones to tout his own record as a Vietnam veteran in the same WLS-TV interview. The Illinois GOP had previously been successful in knocking Jones off the ballot, but failed to do so in 2018.

A representative from Democratic incumbent Lipinski's campaign as well as an attorney for the Illinois GOP were among those who requested the state review the 844 signatures he received in Chicagoland suburbs ranging from Palos Hills to La Grange to Bridgeview. Only 600 signatures were required to get Jones' name on the 2020 ballot. Despite Jones' successful effort to seek another Republican nomination, local news reports have honed in on the rematch between Lipinski and progressive Marie Newman, who narrowly lost by about 2 percentage points in the March 2018 Democratic primary.

Jones, of Lyons, Illinois, told the Sun-Times in 2018 that his denial of the Holocaust and any other anti-Semitic accusations are not part of his platform. "It's totally irrelevant to my campaign, totally irrelevant," he said at the time.

A 2018 review of Jones' signatures to get on the ballot found that 217 were identified as independent voters and 118 were described as "hard Democrats," meaning they voted for Democrats in more than half of the last four primary elections. "Hard Republicans" made up only 111 of the signatures he received to appear in the last 3rd Congressional District contest.

Sarros and several of the people who signed Jones' petition reiterated they were unaware of the candidate's public record of espousing anti-Semitic views.

"The deeper story to this is just people who signed a petition for an old gentleman not knowing who he was, what he supported and not knowing what he was running for," Sarros said told the Sun-Times. "It's unfortunate these folks are signing this petition. I'm sure he didn't advertise who he was because he was able to get all of these signatures."

Residents of a Hickory Hills home which signed Jones' address appeared shocked and angered by the suggestion they offered support for his campaign: "Nobody's voting for any white supremacists here," a man screamed at Sun-Times reporters last week.

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GOP congressional candidate Arthur Jones, 71, once again collected enough signatures from Cook County and southwest Chicago suburbs to appear on the ballot for next year's election. Screenshot: ABC 7 Chicago | YouTube