GOP’s ‘QAnon’ Conspiracy Followers Running For Congress
Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
Updates (1/7/20 and 1/8/20): This article has been updated with more congressional candidates. We will continue to update it as we find more congressional candidates supporting the conspiracy theory.
Multiple supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which got its start on far-right message boards, are running campaigns for Congress in 2020.
The conspiracy theory, which revolves around an anonymous account known as “Q,” started on far-right message board 4chan, later moving to fellow far-right message board 8chan, which has since relaunched as 8kun. (Beyond the QAnon conspiracy theory, 8chan/8kun has been linked to multiple instances of white supremacist terrorism, including the 2019 massacre in El Paso, TX.)
The “Q” account claimed — and the conspiracy theory’s premise — is that President Donald Trump was working with then-special counsel Robert Mueller to take down the president’s perceived enemies, the “deep state,” and pedophiles. Multiple adherents to the conspiracy theory have been tied to acts of violence, including multiple murders and an attempted kidnapping, and an FBI field office released a memo in May that listed QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat.
Below is a list of 2020 congressional candidates who have endorsed the conspiracy theory or promoted QAnon content.
Jo Rae Perkins (Oregon)
Jo Rae Perkins is a Republican candidate running in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District and a former chair of the Linn County Republican Party. She has repeatedly tweeted in support of QAnon and posted the QAnon slogan “Where we go one, we go all,” often abbreviated as “WWG1WGA,” on Twitter and both her personal and campaign Facebook pages. Perkins has also said she follows the “Q team.” Her activity has included pushing a “#QProof” (supposed evidence that “Q” posts are accurate), posting links on Facebook to multiple QAnon YouTube videos, and linking to a site that collects “Q” posts. She has also demanded that reporters ask Trump “the #Q,” referring to a belief among the conspiracy theory’s supporters that Trump would confirm “Q” as real if asked.
In a January 3 interview with Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt (formerly of Media Matters) that she livestreamed and which featured a “WWG1WGA” sticker in the background, Perkins expanded upon her belief in QAnon, saying there is a “very strong probability/possibility that Q is a real group of people, military intelligence, working with President Trump” and compared the “Q” posts to secret codes used during World War II. Later in the interview, she claimed that “Q is most likely military intelligence … and they’ve been out there watching what’s been going on in our country for decades and they are partnered with President Trump to stop the corruption and to save our republic” and compared believing in “Q” to believing in Jesus Christ. Perkins also said her QAnon support is part of her campaign strategy and claimed that “there’s a lot more people that are running for political office that follow Q than are admitting to it.”
Danielle Stella (Minnesota)
Danielle Stella is a Republican candidate running in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. Stella has repeatedly posted in support of QAnon, worn QAnon apparel, and shared QAnon videos. An apparent aide for Stella told Right Wing Watch that the candidate “stands 100% behind the principles of patriotism, unity/inclusiveness (WWG1WGA!) and love for country that Qanon promotes,” although a former campaign staffer dubiously told The Daily Beast that Stella’s support for QAnon was “a ruse” to get support. Yet Stella is also a member of a small QAnon group on Telegram, where she has posted about being in a “#QArmy” and praised her “Qfamily.” Stella has also endorsed another baseless conspiracy theory originating from 4chan that accused her would-be opponent, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), of hiring a hitman to assassinate a woman. Stella was later banned from Twitter for suggesting that Omar be hung for treason.
Matthew Lusk (Florida)
Matthew Lusk is a Republican candidate currently running unopposed in the primary for Florida’s 5th Congressional District. Lusk has tweeted multiple QAnon videos and has an “issue” page on his campaign site specifically called “Q” featuring the text “who is Q.” Lusk also appeared in a video on NBC News about his support for QAnon, which he demonstrates partly by including a “Q” on the back of his campaign signs.
Lusk has expanded upon his belief in QAnon in multiple interviews. He told the Florida Politics blog, “Q is one of my issues because it’s definitely a leak from high places.” In an interview with The Daily Beast, Lusk said that posts from “Q” are a “legitimate something” and that they are a “very articulate screening of past events, a very articulate screening of present conditions, and a somewhat prophetic divination of where the political and geopolitical ball will be bouncing next.” And in an interview with NBC News, Lusk said “Q” is “like an advanced news warning,” adding that “it might come out in the mainstream media a week or two weeks later. So I think there’s a lot of inside sources, whoever this person is.”
DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero (California)
DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero is a Republican candidate running in California’s 12th Congressional District who has repeatedly tweeted about QAnon and the QAnon slogan, including tweeting about QAnon to a major QAnon account. In a since-deleted tweet, she also wrote that “Q is real.” In an interview discussing “Q” with The Daily Beast, Tesoriero said, “I wouldn’t say that I believed in him or the group or anything, but I do believe in some of the issues that he discusses.” She has also expressed support for the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory but declined to confirm that support to The Daily Beast.
Rich Helms (Texas)
Rich Helms is a Republican candidate running in Texas’ 33rd Congressional District. The candidate has repeatedly tweeted the QAnon slogan, including one time directly in response to a tweet about a “Q” post, and he has also retweeted a post about his candidacy containing another slogan connected to QAnon, “#TheGreatAwakening.”
Steve Von Loor (North Carolina)
Michael Bluemling (Florida)
Michael Bluemling is a Republican candidate running in Florida’s 21st Congressional District. The candidate has tweeted the hashtag “#Q” and other hashtags associated with “TheStorm,” another reference to the QAnon conspiracy theory. He has also endorsed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
Erin Cruz (California)
Erin Cruz is a Republican candidate running in California’s 36th Congressional District. According to NBC News, Cruz believes some of the “Q” posts are “valid information,” saying, “I think that the biggest thing with QAnon is there’s information coming out. And sometimes it is in line with what’s going on in government.” She also told NBC that she believes “there is someone out there putting information on the internet” as part of QAnon, adding that “a conspiracy theory only sounds crazy until it’s proven.”
Patrice Kimbler (California)
Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia)
Marjorie Taylor Greene is a Republican candidate running in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. In 2018, she posted on Facebook about an “awesome post by Q.” She has posted the QAnon slogan on Facebook and on Twitter, the latter in response to a tweet defending the legitimacy of “Q” where she also wrote, “Trust the plan” (another catchphrase QAnon supporters use). She also has tweeted the QAnon-connected hashtag “#GreatAwakening” to far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Greene “has posted a series of tweets defending QAnon, including one” — now deleted — “encouraging her followers to message her with questions so she can ‘walk you through the whole thing.’”
Michael Moates (Texas)
Michael Moates is a Libertarian candidate running in Texas’ 26th Congressional District. Moates, a conservative writer who has previously spread falsehoods, suggested support for QAnon in a series of since-deleted tweets in 2018, according to Right Wing Watch. Using the QAnon hashtag, Moates urged people to “keep an eye on” QAnon and wrote that his “goal in life is to ask POTUS about” it. Moates later that year was accused of sending inappropriate messages to several underage women. Moates has also since been suspended from Twitter, and he has launched another account for his campaign, violating Twitter’s ban-evasion rules.
Joe Walz (Texas)
Joe Walz is a Republican candidate running in Texas’ 22nd Congressional District. He has repeatedly tweeted the QAnon slogan.