A closer look at extreme candidates in Illinois

CHICAGO — Nazis, conspiracy theorists, far-right candidates and far-left candidates have made it onto the ballot this November. Here's a closer look at some of those candidates running for office in Illinois.

In Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, avowed Nazi Arthur Jones is the Republican nominee. He's got virtually no chance at winning since it's a solid blue district represented by centrist Democrat Dan Lipinski. But how did this happen? How did a Holocaust denier run unopposed in the primary?

"Well, first of all, Arthur Jones is a despicable human being," Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said. "He does not and should not be representing the Illinois Republican Party."

But Jones is listed on the ballot as the Republican candidate, despite the party’s effort to remove him.

"Arthur Jones came in at the last minute, submitted his petitions," Schneider said. "We went through each and every one of those petitions to see if we could knock him off, and we could not."

Disgusted by Jones, write in-candidate Justin Hanson hopes to break through.

"That Art Jones and some of the things that he stands for — and openly stands for still — can so prominently exist and have such a platform in 2018 is unacceptable," Hanson said.

In the 17th Congressional District, Bill Fawell made it to the ballot as the Republican challenger to Cheri Bustos.

"He has a problem," Schneider said of Fawell. "He’s got these conspiracy theories. He’s a ridiculous person. We are very much in tune that we have withdrawn our support and will not give him once cent of our time, our effort and our money."

In Illinois House District 51, local Republicans chose Helene Miller Walsh to fill the vacant seat. She’s married to conservative firebrand Joe Walsh, a former congressman. Helene Walsh, like her husband, has expressed controversial views, some of which were reportedly posted on Facebook.

"I don’t even know what hate speech is," Walsh said at a recent League of Women Voters candidate forum. "You’re allowed to say whatever you want in this country. ... That’s called free speech."

When asked whether Walsh represents the values of Illinois Republicans, Schneider said, "The Illinois Republican Party does not put pressure on from the top down. We let the local legislators choose their individuals in those races."

Hate is on the rise. The Southern Poverty Law Center said the number of white and black hate groups has surged under President Donald Trump. Republicans have been accused of amplifying the views of extremists.

When asked whether the Republican Party can do a better job of stopping hateful ideology, Schneider said, "I think we are picked on because the Democratic Party does the same thing. They have despicable candidates on their side, just as well as we do. Just as the media doesn’t cover it in the same way that they cover Republicans."

Republicans point to Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who has faced questions about his association with Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan.

There could be a silver lining. Research shows extreme candidates mobilize the opposing party to turn out, keeping the fringe on the sidelines.

With the country so polarized, the rhetoric so sharp, it’s become harder for political parties to call out their own.