An independent candidate has launched a write-in campaign in an Illinois congressional district to directly take on a former Nazi party leader and "fight back" against "hateful viewpoints."
Lawyer Justin Hanson launched his campaign Wednesday in Illinois' 3rd Congressional District as a write-in candidate against Arthur Jones, who ran in an uncontested Republican primary in the Chicago-area district. Hanson will also face incumbent Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski, who has held the seat since 2005 and is heavily favored to win re-election.
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Hanson, 35, practices commercial complex and corporate litigation at Gould & Ratner in Chicago. Before becoming a lawyer, he worked for Missouri's Republican Sen. Roy Blunt and as a policy analyst for Adam Putnam, a former Republican congressman from Florida and current candidate for governor in the state.
Hanson said Jones' uncontested primary run inspired him to throw his hat in the ring:
"I don't know what drives men like Jones to so openly express the un-American views they hold. But it does feel like people who share Jones' white supremacist and Nazi beliefs are more emboldened today. We're just one campaign, but we want to fight back against these hateful viewpoints."
On his website, Jones has a section titled "Holocaust?" -- which includes documents that call the murder of 6 million Jews the "biggest, blackest lie in history." According to the Anti-Defamation League, Jones has been involved with anti-Semitic and racist groups since the 1970s and has made several unsuccessful attempts at elected office since. He told CNN's Alisyn Camerota earlier this year that he is no longer formally involved with the Nazi party.
The Holocaust refers to the murders of about 10 million people by the Nazi Party in Germany during World War II. While Jews were the main targets of the state-sponsored campaign, other groups of people deemed undesirable by the Nazis were also systematically killed.
Hanson says that when he and his wife were watching the primary results in his basement he was "shocked and appalled" when he saw Jones get nearly 21,000 votes in his district.
"Something inside snapped and I couldn't sit by any longer," he said.
Unsatisfied with his other option in the race, Hanson thought the district deserved more choices.
"While Dan (Lipinski) is a nice man, he has simply inadequately represented this district and for far too long," he said. "We believe that our campaign is about bringing energy back to this district and restoring its voice on the issues we are facing as a nation."
Despite Jones running in a district that is considered by CNN as "solid Democrat," his controversial uncontested candidacy caused a stir in local and national politics. Illinois GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner encouraged people to "vote for anyone but" Jones, while Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, encouraged Illinois voters to "write in another candidate, or vote for the Democrat" in a July tweet.
Hanson thinks that had he announced his campaign earlier, the two Republicans would have urged voters to consider writing his name in.
According to Hanson, his campaign has already raised $20,000. Hanson said he plans on relying heavily on social media strategy and the media to get the word out about his candidacy.
"It's a long shot and the odds are against us, but it feels like we are doing the right thing," he said. "We're working hard, but we're having fun. There's always music going at our campaign office -- and coffee."
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