|Share on Facebook|
|Share on Twitter|
By Bob Uphues
Daniel Lipinski, the Western Springs Democrat who has represented the U.S. 3rd Congressional District since 2005, cruised to an easy victory for another term over his Republican opponent, Lyons resident Arthur Jones, on Nov. 6.
The margin of victory, unofficially, with all 500 precincts in Cook, DuPage and Will counties reporting was 73.5 to 26.5 in favor of Lipinski.
In Brookfield, Lipinski fared slightly better than he did district-wide. Voters south of Southview Avenue in Brookfield went for Lipinski by a 76.3 to 23.6 percent margin. In the one Riverside precinct of the 3rd District, the very southern tip of the village, Lipinski got 70.1 percent.
The townships in the 3rd District where Lipinski fared best were Cicero and Berwyn, where he got 85 percent and 82.4 percent of the vote.
Lipinski winning wasn't a surprise. The vast majority of voters in the 3rd District live in heavily Democratic wards on the south and southwest sides of the city and in reliably Democratic precincts in suburban Cook County.
What may be surprising, however, is just how many people voted for his opponent, a neo-Nazi candidate whose campaign website calls the Holocaust a "racket," promotes a conspiracy theory about a Latino takeover of the southwest United States and renaming it "Aztlan" and shows photos of him speaking at the 2014 World Congress of the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations.
A little more than 57,000 people voted for Jones throughout the 3rd District, and he outperformed his overall results in certain areas in the city of Chicago and, especially in Will County.
Jones said he believed he ran a traditional Republican campaign and that his message resonated with Republican voters.
"I got 56,000 votes because people agreed with my positions," Jones said. "I wasn't campaigning as a National Socialist. I was campaigning as a Republican. Before I was a National Socialist, I was a conservative Republican in college. And before that I was a conservative Republican activist in high school, so I just returned to my conservative Republican roots."
Lipinski said straight-party voting likely was responsible for Jones' performance, and that many of those who voted for Jones likely didn't know about his past.
"There are people who are going to vote party line no matter what," Lipinski said. "I can't say I was really surprised that my opponent got as many votes as he did, because more and more people will blindly vote for the party without considering who the actual nominee is."
In Chicago, where Jones won just 16 percent of the vote, the challenger did noticeably better in the city's 19th Ward.
In the 21st Precinct of that ward, in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood, Jones got 38.8 percent of the vote, his best showing of any city precinct.
A little less than 29 percent of 3rd District voters in suburban Cook County cast their votes for Jones. But in DuPage and Will counties, Jones fared far better.
In the two DuPage County precincts within the 3rd Congressional District, Jones garnered 34.7 percent of the total. Meanwhile, in Will County's 43 precincts in the 3rd District, Jones won 38.1 percent of the vote.
In addition, Jones won four Will County precincts outright. His best showing was in Homer Township Precinct 17, where Jones got 51.3 percent of the vote.
"There are some very strong Republican areas out there [referring to Will County], some tea party areas out that way," Lipinski said. "They're going to vote for a Republican no matter what."
Jones said that he was "encouraged" by the results, adding that the result has him contemplating future runs for office.
"If I hadn't gotten a decent vote I was just going to basically say, 'Call it a career,' but I'm very encouraged by what I received," Jones said.
That said, word of Jones' neo-Nazi past, which received press coverage nationwide, appears to have gotten around and affected the decisions of GOP voters.
Compared to 2014, the last time Lipinski faced a Republican challenger, Jones did not perform as well as that year's challenger Sharon Brannigan, a Palos Township trustee who has faced criticism of her own after posting, and later apologizing for, anti-Muslim comments on her Facebook page a couple of years ago.
In 2014, Brannigan got 35.4 percent of the vote overall in the 3rd District and almost 50 percent of the vote in Will County.
The 2018 totals so far do not reflect votes cast for a pair of write-in candidates, who joined the fray this summer in the wake of Jones' primary win.
One of the two write-ins, 35-year-old LaGrange resident Justin Hanson, spent the last week of the campaign placing signs stating, "Yes, Art Jones is a Nazi" next to Jones' campaign signs throughout the district as a way to get word out about the GOP nominee's past.
The other write-in candidate in the 3rd District race is Oak Lawn dentist Dr. Kevin Yerkes.
Lipinski for the first time since 2010 will be re-joining a U.S. House of Representatives that has a Democratic majority after his party flipped more than 30 seats nationwide on Nov. 6. Late last week, some close races were still undecided.
In a statement issued Nov. 7, Lipinski said the House will do its job in checking the power of President Donald Trump by providing oversight that's been lacking the past two years.
"The Democratic takeover of the majority in the U.S. House provides the opportunity for Congress to reassert its constitutional role of conducting oversight of the executive branch and the president," Lipinski said. "This is part of Congress' role in providing checks and balances in the federal government, but something that both parties often fail to do when there is one party in control."
Lipinski said that as a senior member of the House Transportation Committee, he hopes one of the first pieces of legislation tackled by the House will be "a robust infrastructure bill that makes investments in our roads, public transit, airports, and other transportation systems, as well as in other aging infrastructure."
"This infrastructure investment is crucial for the district, our region, and the country," Lipinski said, "and I believe it is an issue that we can find agreement on across parties and between Congress and the president."
Bob Skolnik contributed to this report.