By Bob Skolnik
Art Jones won't have a free ride in the Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District this time. Unlike two years ago when Jones, who has espoused neo-Nazi views, had no competitors in the Republican primary and thus became the Republican nominee by default, Jones will face two opponents on the March 17 Republican primary ballot. Will County board member Mike Fricilone and Oak Lawn resident Catherine O'Shea have also filed nominating petitions to run in the primary.
Fricilone, a 65-year-old Homer Glen resident who works as a sales manager for a furniture retailer, announced his candidacy for Congress in June. He said he was motivated to run in no small part by his desire to make sure that Jones did not become the Republican nominee again.
"That's part of the reason I'm running," Fricilone told the Landmark. "We can't have people with Art Jones' views running on either side of the aisle. He's an extremist and his views are not what this country is about."
Jones called Fricilone a non-entity and attacked Sean Morrison and state Republican chairman Tim Schneider for attacking him.
"The people want a fighter for white people's rights," said Jones, who added that he was confident he could win a contested primary.
"I'm going to swamp these two people who are running against me," Jones said. "They want a fighter and that's me and no one else."
Jones, 71, also said his views about the Holocaust are not relevant to this campaign.
"I'm concerned about America now and America in the future and not what happened 70 years ago," Jones said.
Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison, who also serves as the chairman of the Cook County Republican Party issued a strong statement denouncing Jones Monday afternoon after Jones filed his nominating petitions on Monday morning, the last day for candidates to file their nominating petitions.
"The Cook County Republican Party vehemently condemns Arthur Jones' candidacy," Morrison said in his statement. "His racism and bigotry have no place in our party or American politics. That's why, knowing that a monster like Arthur Jones doesn't just willingly go away, we spent many months recruiting a strong, credentialed Republican candidate to run in the 3rd Congressional District. I believe we have found an outstanding candidate in Will County Board Member Mike Fricilone — a principled, conservative Republican — who will take on Dan Lipinski in November."
O'Shea is a late entrant in the race. She is a realtor who lives in Oak Lawn. Like Jones, she filed on Monday. O'Shea is a former Democrat who served for six years on the board of the Worth Township Schools Treasurer's Office.
"I was a Democrat until 2016," O'Shea said, noting that she decided to become a Republican because she was fed up with high taxes and too much government in Illinois.
"The Republican Party is less government," she said. "People are being taxed out."
O'Shea, 54, said her experience as a realtor helps her understand people's problems and why they are moving out of Illinois.
"I serve all the areas in the district in real estate," O'Shea said. "I hear and see the struggles they are going through and why they have to sell."
Jones, 71, received 26 percent of the vote in the 2018 general election, losing to Lipinski.