WASHINGTON — The seven Illinois Republicans in Congress on Thursday condemned Holocaust denier Arthur Jones, poised to become the GOP nominee for a Chicago area House seat because he is running unopposed.

The seven lawmakers issued a statement as the Illinois Republican Party grapples with the fallout of having a white supremacist and anti-Semite on track to become the official GOP nominee in the March 20 primary — and not much at this point they can do about it.

“The Illinois Republican Congressional delegation strongly and unequivocally condemns the racist views and candidacy of Arthur Jones in the 3rd Congressional District,” the statement said.

“This is not who we are as a party or as a country and we urge civic-minded citizens to get involved in the political process to prevent non-party extremists like Jones from hijacking nominations.”

It was signed by Illinois GOP Reps. Peter Roskam; Adam Kinzinger; Randy Hultgren; John Shimkus; Rodney Davis; Darin LaHood and Mike Bost.

OPINION

Illinois GOP party officials have said this week they well knew about Jones and his views, which are clearly stated on his website and related videos.

However, they did not speak out until the Sun-Times reported in a story posted on Sunday how Jones was about to clinch the nomination. (EDITOR’S NOTE: On Friday, after this story appeared, the Illinois Republican Party told the Sun-Times that a comment from Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider opposing Jones’ 3rd Congressional District bid and condemning his views was included in a Dec. 12 story that ran in the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.)

Hultgren, in an interview with the Sun-Times on Thursday said, “To me it’s really sad that this happened. . . . I couldn’t disagree more with (Jones) stated beliefs in so many different things. And it is absolutely against everything that I believe and everything that I work for.”

Though Jones will secure the nomination because he is unopposed, Hultgren said he would encourage people to be mindful when they get their GOP primary ballot and not vote for Jones.

As for the Illinois Republican Party — now the subject of a stream of embarrassing stories in national and in some international outlets — Hultgren said, “hopefully we learned from it. . . . People make mistakes. Parties absolutely make mistakes. And this was one (where) someone should’ve been aware.”

Jones, 70, a retired insurance agent from Lyons, has run for the 3rd Congressional District GOP nomination multiple times.

The district, taking in a chunk of Chicago’s southwest side and southwest suburban turf is so heavily Democratic, Jones has virtually no chance of being elected. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., of Western Springs is facing off in a Democratic primary with Marie Newman of La Grange.

HULTRGREN, TRUMP AND PRAYER

I was talking to Hultgren because he was the co-chair of the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.

Hultgren was at the head table, next to President Donald Trump while the president spoke. It was a visible mark of Hultgren’s work in the faith-based arena — not only policy, but in the matter of prayer.

President Donald Trump stands with Rep. Randy Hultgren at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday. | AP photo

Hultgren is a co-leader, along with Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., of a group of House members who gather each Thursday when the House is in session to talk about their faith and their faith journey. The Senate has a similar group.

Hultgren said he is an evangelical Christian who with his family attends Harvest New Beginnings, a non-denominational church in Oswego.

The members who go to the nonpartisan, nonsectarian breakfasts, open to everyone, are mainly Christian — Catholics, Southern Baptists and some folks who do not belong to a Christian denomination.

The weekly breakfasts are totally off the record, a chance, Hultgren said, to “hear one of our colleagues story … about their family, about their journey, what brought them to Congress. And a little bit about what faith means to them.”

And then to pray.

HOW JONES ENDED UP ON THE BALLOT

How did Jones end up on the ballot? The Illinois Republican Party let its guard down, here is our explainer.