The Green Party candidate for the 10th Congressional District is an admitted anti-Semite who once made a Nazi salute in Lake County court.
Richard B. Mayers, an unemployed 38-year-old Chicago resident, has run for public office several times. Most recently in 2007, he tried to run for the 3rd District seat held by Western Springs Democrat Dan Lipinski as a Green candidate but was removed from the ballot after party officials challenged his petitions.
They are doing so again this time around, saying Mayers isn't a Green Party member and therefore is ineligible to run for office under its banner. They also say he doesn't represent the organization's views.
"Our main focus is getting him off the ballot," party spokesman Patrick Kelly said.
Mayers' candidate petitions also have been formally challenged by state Rep. Julie Hamos, one of the four Democrats running for the 10th District seat. Hamos, who is Jewish and is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, said Mayers simply wants to use the campaign to spread "a vile message of hatred."
"Richard Mayers has no interest in bringing thoughtful or useful discussion to this race for Congress," Hamos, of Wilmette, said in an e-mailed statement.
In response, Mayers criticized Green Party leaders as being agents of the more established political parties. He also criticized Hamos' Democratic views and the Democratic Party in general for their environmental stances and other issues.
Green Party candidates generally run on liberal, pro-environment platforms.
Mayers did not, however, deny the allegations against him, and he made disparaging remarks against Jews and other people from the Middle East.
Mayers also confirmed he was arrested in July 2005 and charged with contempt of court after authorities said he made a Nazi salute inside a Lake County courtroom during the arraignment of a man charged in a hate-crime attack.
"It was something of that nature, yes," Mayers said. "I gave a salute to one of the defendants, but I was not convicted."
The charge eventually was dropped.
Seven Republicans, four Democrats and Mayers are running for the 10th District seat, which represents much of the North Shore and some of the Northwest suburbs. The district includes a significant Jewish population.
The post is now held by Republican Mark Kirk, who is departing the House to run for the U.S. Senate.
Primary elections are scheduled for Feb. 2, 2010.
The challenges against Mayers' petitions were filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections by Hamos and Walter Pituc, a Buffalo Grove resident and representative of the Green Party. They have not yet been resolved.
If Mayers survives the challenges, he will be the lone Green Party candidate on the Feb. 2 ballot and automatically will be on the November 2010 general-election ballot.