ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Governor Bruce Rauner again condemned the Holocaust denier who managed to secure a spot on the November ballot as a Republican running for Congress during a stop in Champaign-Urbana on Tuesday.
Arthur Jones, a 70-year-old perennial candidate who openly admits his racist and anti-Semitic views, collected the required amount of petition signatures to clinch the primary GOP nomination for the Third Congressional District back in March, although he was uncontested.
In February, Governor Rauner said about Jones, “There is no room for Neo Nazis in American politics. I condemn this man in the strongest possible terms.”
This weekend, Jones cleared another technical hurdle on his way toward almost certain defeat in November when no one, including the Illinois Republican Party, challenged the validity of his petitions to the State Board of Elections. That gave J.B. Pritzker's campaign an opening to demand Rauner take action.
"Days of silence from Bruce Rauner tells Illinoisans all they need to know: this failed governor can't find the courage to call on an avowed Nazi to drop his bid for Congress," Pritzker spokesman Jason Rubin wrote in a statement. "This is no time to cower. Rauner must call on Arthur Jones to drop out immediately."
While campaigns often call on opponents to make public statements on pressing or potentially embarrassing issues, the repetition and tenacity with which the Pritzker campaign has demanded Rauner rephrase his own statements has rubbed the governor's campaign raw.
"What a crock," Rauner guffawed when he heard the Pritzker campaign demanded to know if he thought Jones should drop out of the race.
"Yes, and I said so immediately," he insisted. "This is another lie from the Pritzker camp. The guy can’t run on the truth because the truth is so bad for him. That guy [Jones] has no place on the ballot. We tried to kick him off. I called him to get out and he should be out. We should have somebody run against him. There is no room, as I said right immediately when he snuck on there, there is no room in our politics for a person like that.
However, the state party neglected to recruit a candidate to oppose Jones in the primary, they failed to put forward a third party candidate or file a legal challenge to block him from reaching the ballot. A spokesman with the state Republican party said they reviewed Jones' petitions signatures and saw no way to block him from the ballot.
"We were looking for people to run against him," Rauner explained, when asked why the party didn't do more to oppose Jones' bid. "I said he shouldn’t be on there. And this is all baloney from the Pritzker campaign. They have repeatedly had a pattern of lies, misinformation misleading the people of Illinois on every topic because they can’t run on the truth. Pritzker is the poster boy for what is wrong in Illinois. He knows it so he has got to create false smoke screens.
Some Republicans have suggested voters in the Third Congressional District should punch the ballot for Democrat incumbent Dan Lipinski. The governor, however, would not endorse the pro-life Democrat.
"No," he said. "The one thing I will say is the person, that guy, Johnson or whatever his name is, should not be on the ballot."
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