WASHINGTON – At least two potential write-in candidates have emerged to try to drain votes from the GOP nominee in the Illinois 3rd congressional district, a Holocaust denier, anti-Semite and white supremacist.
“Hateful men like Art Jones need to be opposed,” Justin Hanson, 35, an attorney who lives in LaGrange, said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times about why he is launching a write-in bid.
“In this district, I grew up here, I know the people here. We will not tolerate men like Art Jones trying to give voice and credibility to these ideas,” Hanson said. The district includes parts of the Southwest Side and nearby suburbs stretching into Will County.
Kenneth Yerkes, 62, a dentist who lives and works in Oak Lawn, told the Sun-Times he mounted a write-in bid because “I’m diametrically opposed to what [Jones] believes. He’s un-American.”
On Wednesday Yerkes wrote in a Facebook post that “someone had to #StandUp” to Jones.
“I alone, Stood Up Against #HolocaustDenierArthurJones. Are any of you going to Vote?” he wrote.
Jones became the Republican nominee after he ran unopposed in the March GOP primary.
The 3rd congressional district is overwhelmingly Democratic. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., is poised to win another term in November.
Jones was thrust into the national spotlight before the primary after the Sun-Times unmasked his long history of neo-Nazism.
Jones got 20,681 votes last March, a significant showing for someone who raised no money and did not run an organized campaign.
The write-in candidacies of Hanson and Yerkes are more symbolic than politically viable. The aim is to limit Jones’ vote total.
With no exit polling in the GOP primary, it’s not known if the Republican primary voters realized who they were voting for.
In Illinois, write-in candidates have to register with local election authorities. In the March primary, Republican party leaders didn’t put up a write-in candidate to siphon votes from Jones.
But they’ve taken aim at his candidacy since then. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a June 29 tweet, said: “This is horrific. An avowed Nazi running for Congress. To the good people of Illinois, you have two reasonable choices: write in another candidate, or vote for the Democrat. This bigoted fool should receive ZERO votes.”
Hanson said, “I am trying to give people an option.”
Asked if his candidacy will just give more attention to Jones, Hanson said, “It is going to encourage good people to take a stand…to oppose men like Art Jones.”
A former Capitol Hill staffer for Republicans — who pulled a Democratic ballot in the Illinois primary — Hanson is running a campaign out of his garage and has raised $15,000 through donations and Crowdpac.
Lipinski, asked to react to the write-in contenders, in a statement expressed concern about all the publicity Jones is getting because he is a Republican nominee.
“Art Jones must be rejected by voters because of the vile, bigoted, anti-Semitic rhetoric and policies that he supports.
“He has been promoting these hateful views for decades but his reach has been small and voters have rejected him time and time again when he’s appeared on the ballot. I am hopeful he will not be able to use his current run to reach a much bigger audience for his hate.”
Historian Deborah Lipstadt, the author of “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory,” wrote of deniers, “The average person who is uninformed will find it difficult to discern their true objectives” — which is why “Holocaust denial is such a threat.”
Said Hanson: “I can tell my kids I stood up to hate, and I’ll be an example for them.”