A long-shot candidate with a history of anti-Semitic statements and Holocaust denial is primed to represent the Republican Party in a congressional race in Illinois.
"Yes I deny the Holocaust!" Arthur Jones said to CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota on Thursday. "It's an extortion racket ... It's nothing but an international extortion racket by the Jews to blackmail and terorrize their enemies.
Jones, is running unopposed in the GOP primary for Illinois' 3rd Congressional District, which occupies a portion of Chicago, as well as Western Springs and La Grange. The primary election will take place on March 20.
His website contains sections such as "Holocaust?" which features a statement that says "there is no proof such a so-called 'Holocaust' ever took place anywhere in Europe, against the Jews." In another section called "Hate Speech?" the Jones campaign cites a document that includes quotes from American presidents, Charles Lindbergh, and the Bible meant to suggest racial and religious supremacy.
Jones has been involved with anti-Semitic and racist groups since the 1970s, the Anti-Defamation League says.
The Jones campaign did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment. The state party has refused to back his candidacy.
"The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the 3rd Congressional District," Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said in a statement.
The deadlines for candidates to file to enter the primary race on the ballot or as a write-in have both passed. The Illinois Board of Elections requires independent candidates to file for candidacy by June, and requires write-in candidates to register with the state 61 days before the election. In order to qualify as a Republican candidate in the race, Jones had to submit a petition with 603 signatures from voters in his district supporting his candidacy to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Aaron DeGroot, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, told CNN Monday that the party "is exploring all options" to push forward a different candidate once the primary is over, including declaring a write-in candidate or registering an independent candidate on the general election ballot.
Jones has run in previous elections in the 3rd Congressional District, where Democrats have won in 24 of the last 25 elections.
In 2012, he was defeated in the GOP primary, and in 2016, he ran unopposed in the GOP primary and was removed from the ballot "for flagrant disregard of the election code," the Chicago Tribune reports.
Jones says he supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election but in 2017, he expressed his regret over voting for Trump over a weakened stance on the US-Mexico border wall.
"I'm sorry I voted for the son of a b****, I really am," Jones told the Guardian.
On the Democratic side of the election, incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski is facing a challenge from the left, and his opponent has been endorsed by several Democratic lawmakers, including local Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez and national stars like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
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