Running against an unknown 27-year-old home security salesman in the upcoming Democratic primary, Rep. William O. Lipinski could be expected to have smooth sailing for getting on the ballot for a 10th term in his suburban Cook County district. Instead, he has a dilemma.
Lipinski's only challenger is R. Benedict Mayers, an avowed white supremacist who, besides running for Congress, is trying to get three referendums on the March 21 ballot. The measures would ban interracial marriages, prohibit the abortion of "healthy white babies" and send all black prison inmates "back to western Africa."
In addition, Mayers's platform would tax all immigrants who are not of Anglo-Saxon origin, launch a congressional investigation into "international Jewry," change the 19th Amendment to allow only white women to vote, and redraw the boundaries of Chicago to exclude the predominantly black South and West sides of the city in order to "once again make Chicago a world-class city."
Lipinski's dilemma, aides say, is challenging Mayers's racist views and making sure he is defeated without giving him a platform. In other words, how best to walk the narrow line between running a negative campaign and giving his opponent the exposure he is seeking.
"You have to make people aware you have an opponent and tell them what he stands for, but at the same time you don't want to give him the publicity he wants," said Joe Novak, a congressional aide in Lipinski's 3rd Congressional District office. "It's a problem."
Novak said Lipinski would use white supremacist language taken from Mayers's campaign Web site and distribute it through direct-mail and door-to-door contacts to "educate the constituents" about Mayers's racist platform.
According to police in suburban Berwyn, Mayers was cited for violating a local littering ordinance last summer after he distributed pamphlets from the World Church of the Creator, the white supremacist group that once included as a member Benjamin Smith, who killed two men and wounded nine others in a race-motivated shooting spree over the July Fourth weekend before committing suicide. Smith's former girlfriend, Christine Weiss, signed two of Mayers's referendum petitions.
Novak said that after Mayers collected the 584 signatures needed to get on the primary ballot, Lipinski's aides asked some of the voters why they signed. The typical response, he said, was that Mayers "seemed like a nice young man" and that the petition signers were unaware of his racist views.
A Chicago alderman, Joe Moore, has challenged Mayers's referendum petitions, saying that none of them has more than 22 signatures and one has only two signatures, including Mayers's. More than 130,000 are needed to qualify.