And in his most recent blog post — dated Aug. 24 — Jones rails against “Radical Leftists” and blames them for starting racial violence that had roiled Charlottesville about two weeks earlier. Heather Heyer, 32, a protester at a white supremacist rally, died after a driver rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators. A self-professed neo-Nazi has been charged with first-degree murder in the incident. Jones painted the death as an accident.
Despite his views, Jones is all but certain to become the GOP nominee in one of Illinois’s most prominent congressional districts — one that includes parts of Chicago and several suburbs to the west and southwest. Jones is running unopposed in the Republican primary; the deadline for candidates to file was in early December.
His chances of winning the seat are extremely slim. The district is rated “safely Democratic,” according to Ballotpedia. Two candidates — Marie Newman and incumbent Daniel Lipinski — are facing off in the Democratic primary, and a third candidate, Mateusz “Mat” Tomkowiak, is running as an independent.
Still, even getting this far in the race is a new milestone for Jones. Over three decades, he has unsuccessfully thrown his hat into the ring for the 3rd District seat seven times, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
When Sun-Times reporter Frank Main drove to Lyons, Ill., to track down Jones, the candidate was no less vocal about his extreme views.
“Well first of all, I’m running for Congress not the chancellor of Germany, all right?” Jones told Main. “To me, the Holocaust is what I said it is: It’s an international extortion racket.”
Jones also told the newspaper that he was once a leader in the American Nazi Party and now leads the America First Committee — an organization whose membership “is open to any white American citizen of European, non-Jewish descent.”
Jones did not immediately respond to interview requests Sunday afternoon. It’s unclear how he arrived at the opinion that the Holocaust, a systematic genocide in which an estimated 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime, was a sham.
Jones has been involved with at least half a dozen racist groups stretching back to the 1970s, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which has a page devoted to Jones on its website. From 2008 and 2011, Jones was known to have participated in events celebrating the birthday of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, the ADL page states. He was also among those who protested the 2009 opening of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Ill., according to Haaretz.
In 2016, the state election board tossed Jones from the ballot for the 3rd District for “flagrant disregard of the election code,” the Chicago Tribune reported, although a lawyer for the board did not specify why Jones’s signatures were not valid.
The newspaper that year also highlighted Jones’s former membership in the American National Socialist Workers Party, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a relatively recent offshoot of the National Socialist Movement, “one of the largest and most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States.”
Representatives from the Illinois Republican Party did not respond to questions sent by email Sunday. But Tim Schneider, the chairman of the Illinois GOP, told the Sun-Times that the party denounced Jones.
“The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones,” Schneider told the newspaper. “We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the 3rd Congressional District.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which supports conservative candidates, balked at questions about Jones.
“This guy is a fringe candidate who has been doing this for over a decade with no real connection to the GOP,” NRCC spokesman Jesse Hunt said in a Sunday-night email.
Writing about Jones, Hunt said, “gives him exactly what he wants: a platform. And quite frankly I find it shameful.”
Jones’s candidacy comes at a time when far-right groups have had new clout in the national discussion: Some hate groups have ramped up recruitment on college campuses and, for a time, some far-right leaders imagined they had an ally in the White House in Stephen K. Bannon, who served as an adviser to President Trump before departing his post in August.
Last week, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was criticized for bringing an accused Holocaust denier as his guest to the State of the Union address. Gaetz later defended himself, saying he didn’t know who Chuck Johnson was when he invited him to the speech.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported Mateusz “Mat” Tomkowiak had withdrawn from the race. He is still running as an independent.
Avi Selk contributed to this post, which has been updated.