The Illinois Republican Party is poised to avoid another embarrassment in the race for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District seat.
Mike Fricilone, a member of the Will County Board who had the backing of the state GOP, took an early lead Tuesday night ahead of his two rivals: Catherine O’Shea, an insurance broker from Oak Lawn, and Arthur Jones, a retired insurance who is also a Holocaust denier, white supremacist and neo-Nazi.
With 92 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Fricilone was leading with nearly 59 percent of the vote. O’Shea was at about 31 percent, while Jones had garnered 10 percent.
“One of my initial reasons for running was that we can’t have a guy like Arthur Jones running on either side of the ballot,” Fricilone said. “We’re in a position now, no matter what happens on the other side [in the Democratic primary], I think I’m in a position to be going to Washington [in] November.”
Two years ago, Jones was the Republican nominee for the seat, which covers some of the South Side and many southwest suburbs. He was defeated in the general election that year by incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, though Jones did garner about 25% of the vote.
In recent months, Illinois Republicans have unleashed an ad blitz — replete with robocalls, mailers, digital ads and face-to-face warnings to voters — that has sought to draw a distinction between Jones and the party.
“I promised that the Illinois Republican Party would do everything in its power to defeat Nazi Arthur Jones. And we did,” Illinois GOP Chariman Tim Schneider said in a statement Tuesday night. “Because many folks go to the polls and simply choose a familiar name in down ballot races, the ILGOP was committed to deploying resources to educate voters on Jones’ heinous views.”
Jones, of southwest suburban Lyons, was the Republican nominee for the 3rd District seat in 2018 after party leaders didn’t field an alternative candidate in the heavily Democratic congressional district.
Despite widespread media attention to Jones’ anti-Semitic beliefs before the 2018 election, Jones still garnered more than 57,000 votes of the roughly 220,000 that were cast.
After his 2018 defeat, Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times: “They can’t say they didn’t know who they were voting for … You guys in the media made sure of that.”
Jones has unsuccessfully run for elected offices in the Chicago area and Milwaukee since the 1970s. From the 1990s to 2016, he jumped into the GOP 3rd Congressional District primary seven times, never coming close to becoming a viable contender.
Then the Sun-Times reported in February 2018 the perennial candidate was poised to win the GOP nomination that election cycle because Republicans had not fielded an alternative candidate or been able to knock Jones from the ballot.
In 2016, Jones was removed from the ballot after the state party successfully challenged his petitions.