Illinois GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner encouraged people to “vote for anyone but” the Holocaust denier who’s running for the state’s 3rd Congressional District as a Republican, after declining Tuesday to endorse his Democratic opponent.
Arthur Jones, a former leader of the American Nazi Party, ran uncontested to be the Republican candidate in the Chicago-area district. His campaign website includes a section titled “Holocaust?” Jones has been involved with anti-Semitic and racist groups since the 1970s, according to the Anti-Defamation League, though he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota earlier this year that he is no longer formally involved with the Nazi party.
Despite denouncing Jones, Rauner said in an interview Tuesday with Illinois’ WCIA TV that he would not endorse Jones’ Democratic opponent, Rep. Dan Lipinski, according to WCIA.
“No,” he said in response to a question about whether he would endorse Lipinski, according to WCIA. “The one thing I will say is the person, that guy, Johnson or whatever his name is, should not be on the ballot.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, had encouraged Illinois voters to “write in another candidate, or vote for the Democrat” in a tweet on Friday.
Rauner seemed to change course in a tweet Thursday night, but he did not explicitly endorse Lipinski.
“To the voters of the 3rd Congressional District: vote for anybody but Arthur Jones. Nazis have no place in our country and no one should vote for him,” Rauner wrote in the tweet.
Rauner continued by criticizing those who he said were accusing him of not fully denouncing Jones.
“For the media or anyone else to suggest I think otherwise is offensive and irresponsible,” Rauner added in his tweet.
Lipinski is a blue-dog, anti-abortion Democrat who has served the district for more than a decade. He is heavily favored to win.
CNN’s Sophie Tatum and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.