Jewish Stakes in Illinois Primary


Will both sides of the bistate area have a Jewish governor after November?

That could be the case after the victory of hotel magnate J.B. Pritzker in last week’s Democratic primary in Illinois. In November, Pritzker will face incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner, who barely won his bid to get on the ballot for a second term. If elected, Pritzker would be the third Jewish governor in Illinois history. 

(Of course, the dual Jewish gubernatorial scenario also assumes that embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens continues in office, but that’s another editorial.)

Pritzker, whose family founded the Hyatt hotel chain, has credited his Jewish upbringing for shaping his political philosophy.

“It’s a tenet of our religion,” he told the Chicago Jewish News last year. “We’re all responsible for one another in the world. If you have the ability to do more, you do more. If you have the ability to do a little, you do a little. You do something to repair the world (tikkun olam).”

The balloting for governor wasn’t the only primary race with implications for Jews in Illinois. In the 3rd Congressional District, near Chicago, Holocaust denier Arthur Jones won the Republican nomination — because he ran unopposed. 

The chairman of the state GOP has disavowed him, branding him “a Nazi whose disgusting, bigoted views have no place in our nation’s discourse.” And the party plans to back an independent candidate in the fall to face Jones and incumbent Democrat Dan Lipinski, a conservative who narrowly won the nomination in a race that featured a spirited debate over support for Israel. 

The contest drew particular attention because Jews make up less than 1 percent of the district’s population.

More than 20,000 voters cast ballots for Jones. He said the total shows support for his views, but the chairman of the Cook County Republican Party, Sean Morrison, said the votes more likely reflect people who simply cast a straight GOP ballot.

“The overwhelming majority of most folks in the district have absolutely no idea who the Nazi Art Jones is,” Morrison told the Daily Southtown newspaper. 

Let’s hope the real message about Jones gets across, loud and clear, by November.