Lauren Boebert, who won her Colorado primary this week is part of a small but growing list of Republican candidates who have in some way expressed support for QAnon. They include Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is advancing to a runoff for a congressional seat in a Republican-dominated Georgia congressional district, and Jo Rae Perkins, the party’s Senate nominee in Oregon.
The trend pales in comparison to previous movements that have swept Capitol Hill, such as the 2010 tea party wave. But at a time when the Republicans are facing steep headwinds among women and in the suburbs, the QAnon candidates could add extra headaches, the Associated Press reports.
“The more times you have candidates who are crazy, the more it hurts your brand,” said John Feehery, a Republican consultant and former House leadership aide. “The trick is for Republicans to embrace the anti-establishment mood without embracing the crazy.”
But it seems like the Republicans are going to swing right behind Boebert. “Lauren won her primary fair and square and has our support,” Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, the chair of the House Republican campaign arm, said in a statement.
“This is a Republican seat and will remain a Republican seat as Nancy Pelosi and senior House Democrats continue peddling their radical conspiracy theories and pushing their radical cancel culture.”
Boebert’s campaign manager, Sherronna Bishop, said the campaign was ignoring the headlines tying the candidate to the QAnon conspiracy: “We know exactly what we’re about and that’s the Constitution and freedom. We are not into conspiracy theories.”
When Lauren Boebert was asked in May about QAnon, she didn’t shy away from the far-right conspiracy theory, which advances unproven allegations about a so-called deep state plot against President Donald Trump that involves satanism and child sex trafficking.
“Everything that I’ve heard of Q, I hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values,” she said.
Republican voters may not know the details of the theory, but they’ve become more amenable to the notion of conspiracies because Trump exploited them during his own campaign and administration, said Joseph Uscinski, a political scientist at the University of Miami who studies conspiracy theories. “Just as that worked for him, there are going to be copycats, too,” he said.
Uscinski said there’s nothing in the QAnon theory that’s inherently conservative, and Boebert was nowhere near as enthusiastic about it as other candidates. He cited Perkins, the Senate nominee in Oregon, who repeated the QAnon oath in a recent video. She took down a video backing the movement, then said she’d been duped by her own campaign staff and supported it again.
Other Republican candidates have referred to the conspiracy theory in social media posts but say they’re not believers. Angela Stanton-King, the nominee in Georgia’s solidly Democratic 5th Congressional District, said in a statement that a post linking to a QAnon video on Instagram that begins: “This would explain why they tried so hard to make us hate him…” was just questioning the movement. She also said that her use of QAnon hashtags in tweets didn’t mean she was an adherent, explaining she peppers her social media with various hashtags to extend her reach.
If you missed it, yesterday we had this profile of Lauren Boebert, and my colleague Julia Carrie Wong recently did a deep-dive into how the QAnon conspiracy spreads from the fringes of the internet to mainstream sites like Facebook.