There will be a primary election on March 20 to select Republican and Democratic candidates to vie for congressional seats in Illinois and the third district has drawn some interest. On the Republican side, only one person has filed to run in this election, guaranteeing that he will be the party’s candidate. Not having a rival in primaries is not unusual. What is unusual is that this unopposed person has the most appalling views.
Arthur Jones — an outspoken Holocaust denier, activist anti-Semite and white supremacist — is poised to become the Republican nominee for an Illinois congressional seat representing parts of Chicago and nearby suburbs.
“Well first of all, I’m running for Congress not the chancellor of Germany. All right. To me the Holocaust is what I said it is: It’s an international extortion racket,” Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Jones told the Sun-Times he is a former leader of the American Nazi Party and now heads a group called the America First Committee. “Membership in this organization is open to any white American citizen of European, non-Jewish descent,” he said.
Why is he unopposed? Because the Republican party felt that they had no chance of winning in this strong Democratic seat and so did not bother to field a better candidate. But even if that were the case, surely it would have been in their interest to make sure that the party is not represented by an outright bigot like Jones since this will only further cement the impression that neo-Nazis see the Republican party as their home? Even if they felt that they were certain to lose and did not want to waste resources on this election, surely there was someone in the party who was willing to take one for the team and run in the primary and then be prepared to lose in the general election?
The Democratic party primary pits the incumbent Dan Lipinski, a hack Republican-lite politician who ‘inherited’ the seat from his father who stepped aside to make room for him, versus a progressive alternative Marie Newman, as Ryan Grim and Alex Emmons report.
In Illinois, Marie Newman, challenging incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, outraised one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, pulling in $260,000 to his $228,000 (though she did so with the help of a $100,000 loan to herself). Lipinski has an enormous amount of cash in the bank, having been in office since 2004 and facing little opposition, but his opponent’s fourth quarter fundraising signals that his re-election is far from guaranteed.
Campa-Najjar, King, and Newman have all rejected the notion that Democrats need to moderate their messages to win the support of Trump voters, and instead are focused on energizing a different kind of voter.
Newman has the backing of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Human Rights Campaign, immigrant rights groups, and a host of national progressive organizations. Lipinski has traditionally had the backing of the state machine and its labor unions, but cracks in that wall may be forming. The Illinois Federation of Teachers plans to make its endorsement decision this weekend and the national AFT will follow the locals lead, a spokesperson said. That it is even an open question given Lipinski’s longtime relationship with labor suggests Newman has a real chance of winning the endorsement. EMILY’s List announced Friday it is endorsing Newman.
The endorsement came after news that the SEIU, which has thousands of members in the district, was breaking with Lipinski, who recently came out against the union’s signature $15 per hour minimum wage. Politico’s Illinois newsletter reported this morning that the union would be endorsing Newman, which was confirmed by The Intercept.
More than 50 percent of Lipinski’s campaign dollars last quarter came from political action committees, largely from corporation interests such as the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group for oil companies; insurance giant Aflac; Chevron; and American Airlines. PACs aligned with the Democratic Party also funneled cash to Lipinski. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Rep. Linda Sanchez, and the Blue Dog PAC contributed to Lipinski’s reelection effort.
I hope Newman defeats Lipinski. The usual argument used against primary challengers when they take on incumbents, that the incumbent has a better chance of retaining the seat for the party, does not apply in this case now that Jones will be the Republican nominee and certainly lose. A Newman-Jones contest would provide a stark contrast between a progressive and a racist, anti-Semitic reactionary.