Art Jones denies the Holocaust happened (it did).
His own Republican party has called him a Nazi.
But Jones, the GOP nominee in the 3rd Congressional District, actually won several suburban precincts and got nearly 40 percent in two Southwest Side city precincts.
He tallied 25 percent — 56,000 votes — in losing to incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, a Democrat.
The race left many struggling to understand how 56,000 people voted for a Nazi — and hoping that it was just clueless voters punching a straight Republican ticket, not residents who quietly support his views.
About 10,400 of ballots cast for Jones — nearly 19 percent of his total — came from Chicago voters in 11 Southwest Side wards.
His strongest performance in Chicago came in parts of the Mount Greenwood neighborhood in the 19th Ward, where he garnered nearly 40 percent of the vote in two precincts.
• Ward 11 – 15.55 percent Jones
• Ward 12 – 11.04 percent Jones
• Ward 13 – 12.91 percent Jones
• Ward 14 – 14.80 percent Jones
• Ward 15 – 8.04 percent Jones
• Ward 16 – 7.06 percent Jones
• Ward 18 – 11.28 percent Jones
• Ward 19 – 24.79 percent Jones
• Ward 20 – 3.85 percent Jones
• Ward 22 – 9.06 percent Jones
• Ward 23 – 15.87 percent Jones
Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) could not believe anyone in his community knowingly voted for a Nazi. Instead, he surmises, many conservative voters simply checked every Republican.
“They go right through the ballot voting for every Republican, not doing their homework, not doing their research,” O’Shea said.
“As much as I’d like to think I have an electorate that’s engaged, I think there are some folks who strictly vote Republican, they don’t research candidates,” he said.
“There are not Nazi supporters in my community,” O’Shea said. “And if they did know, that’s despicable. . . . Art Jones is a despicable person.”
Lipinski also attributes Jones’ tally to an uninformed, knee-jerk Republican electorate.
“There’s no question that some people everywhere support this type of hate,” Lipinksi said Thursday during a phone chat, noting that Mount Greenwood is one of the most Republican parts of the voting district.
“But the insinuation that people in my district, especially on the Southwest Side in the area where I grew up, would support a Nazi, I find that insulting.”
Jones, however, scoffed at the notion that folks didn’t know who they were voting for.
“Baloney!” he said during a phone conversation Thursday. “After all the exposure of me being labeled the ‘Holocaust denier’ in the media, it’s impossible for me to believe.”
Instead, Jones said, voters either agreed with his positions outright, or voted for him despite of his Nazi background because they supported his stance on other conservative issues.
However, a woman eating lunch at a Mount Greenwood diner Wednesday confirmed she voted for Jones by accident after blindly casting an all-Republican ballot.
“If I’d known I would not have voted for him,” said the woman, 80. “I regret it.”
At a Mexican restaurant across the street, a 24-year-old woman who lives in the neighborhood said: “That’s just how it is over here, everyone is Republican. It was an accident. I’m sure of it. It’s all city workers and cops and firefighters in this neighborhood. There are no Nazi lovers here that I know of.”
A 28-year-old woman who has lived in the area for several years paused while walking her dog to chat about the issue. She hoped the Jones votes were cast by accident. But the fact that one of her former neighbors had Confederate flag stickers on his car casts some doubt, she said.
Daniel Rother, who lives in the nearby Beverly neighborhood, spoke bluntly.
“I don’t think it was an accident. Art Jones was in the news a lot because he was a Nazi,” Rother, 65, said while heading into a Mount Greenwood restaurant.
“There’s lots of prejudice in Mount Greenwood,” added Rother, a retired city worker. Residents “probably don’t support that Jones is a Nazi, but they support that he’d keep the neighborhood white. That’s just the mindset.”
In Will County Jones received more than 38 percent of the vote — or 30,379 votes — and narrowly beat Lipinski in four precincts — three in Homer Glen and one Lockport.
In suburban Cook County Jones received nearly 29 percent of the vote — 34,497 votes — and eked out wins in two precincts, one in Lemont and one in Orland Park.
In portion of DuPage County that’s in the 3rd District — two precincts in Downers Grove — Jones had mixed results; 22 percent of the vote in one, 45 percent in the other.
“A study would need to be done, and I hope one is done, to figure out how much of the vote for Jones was on purpose and how much was ignorance,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr, whose office is charged with tabulating suburban votes.
“But nothing is shocking to me because, unfortunately,” Orr added. “Under President Trump, we see this sort of resurgence of people wearing racism and intolerance on their sleeve or feeling like it’s OK to be blatant about that.”