At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.
Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.
- QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that purports without proof that posts by an anonymous internet user from within the federal government are alluding to a secret war that the “deep state” is waging against President Trump.
Driving the news: At least two candidates were positioned to win seats in November.
Lauren Boebert, a first-time candidate, gun-rights activist and QAnon supporter, defeated five-term Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado’s June 30 Republican primary for the 3rd congressional district. Trump had endorsed Tipton.
- Boebert said in May she hopes QAnon “is real because it only means America is getting stronger and better and people are returning to conservative values,” which she supports.
- In a statement, the National Republican Congressional Committee said that the district “is a Republican seat and will remain a Republican seat.”
- Boebert told Axios she does not follow QAnon but is “glad the IG and the AG are investigating deep state activities that undermine the President.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene emerged from last month’s primary as the frontrunner heading into an August runoff for the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, which is rated solidly Republican. She called Q a “patriot” in a 30-minute video in which she also professes the theory.
- As Politico reported, House Republican leaders distanced themselves from Greene, who also has made Islamophobic, racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
- After her rhetoric came under greater scrutiny, establishment Republicans have pushed to shift support to her runoff opponent, John Cowan, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Several other Republican congressional candidates with QAnon ties are running in solidly Democratic districts. Six of them bested competitors in contested primaries.
- Angela Stanton-King, Georgia, 5th congressional district: On Instagram, Stanton-King posted a 12-minute video from a well-known QAnon promoter, who states “those who are corrupting our world” will be “permanently eradicated from the Earth.” Her primary was uncontested.
- She received a pardon from President Trump on Feb. 18, for her 2004 conviction on federal conspiracy charges involving an auto theft ring, the AJC reports.
- Mike Cargile, California, 35th congressional district: Cargile’s Twitter bio includes the “#WWG1WGA” hashtag, which stands for the QAnon motto “Where We Go One We Go All.” Cargile finished second in California’s “top two” primary system to Democratic incumbent Rep. Norma Torres, whom he will face in November. He told Axios: “Only a fool would look at the Washington landscape and conclude that the President has no enemies inside the beltway.”
- Erin Cruz, California, 36th congressional district: Cruz told NBC News in 2019 that people who believe in the theory have “legitimate concerns.” She finished second in the primary and will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Raul Ruiz.
- Alison Hayden, California, 15th congressional district: Hayden has promoted the theory on her campaign Twitter account and has repeatedly tweeted the QAnon-connected hashtag “#GreatAwakening.” She defeated five other candidates and finished second in the primary for the right to face incumbent Rep. Eric Swalwell.
- Johnny Teague, Texas, 9th congressional district: On a campaign account which has since been deleted, Teague retweeted a video of QAnon supporters reciting an oath associated with the conspiracy theory, according to Media Matters. He defeated two other candidates for the nomination.
- Rob Weber, Ohio, 9th congressional district: Weber tweeted congratulations to a Twitter user for being “17’d,” a reference to the 17th letter of the alphabet, Q. He defeated three other candidates for the nomination.
- Philanise White, Illinois, 1st congressional district: White has tweeted the #WWG1WGA hashtag on multiple occasions. She ran uncontested for the nomination.
- Theresa Raborn, Illinois, 2nd congressional district: Raborn retweeted a video of former national security adviser Michael Flynn reciting an oath associated with the conspiracy theory, adding the #WWG1WGA hashtag. She ran unopposed for the nomination.
- Billy Prempeh, New Jersey, 9th congressional district: Prempeh uploaded a photo of himself posing with a “Q” flag on his campaign Facebook page, adding the motto “Where We Go One We Go All.” He beat one other candidate for the nomination.
- Jo Rae Perkins, Oregon: The Republican U.S. Senate nominee recited the oath in a video posted on her campaign Twitter account. She beat three other candidates for the nomination. She told Axios that she believes QAnon is a news source that she uses for “connecting the dots” and “getting information that the mainstream media, generally, does not post.”
Of note: Buzz Patterson, who finished second in the primary for California’s 7th congressional district and will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Ami Bera, tweeted “Yep!” in response to whether he supports the Q movement.
- Patterson told Axios that he does not recall sending the tweet about the theory and does not “follow or endorse anything he/she/them say.”
Axios contacted each campaign and only received responses from Boebert, Cargile, Patterson and Perkins.
Between the lines: Trump has retweeted QAnon Twitter accounts on multiple occasions, while his son Eric Trump has promoted the theory in Instagram posts, Forbes reports.
- A number of independent or write-in candidates who have supported the conspiracy theory will also appear on ballots in November.
Go deeper … The science of conspiracies: Where Flat Earth meets Pizzagate
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that California has a “top two” primary system and that several of the Republican candidates finished second.
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