As the GOP becomes more receptive to the conspiracy theory, more of the cult’s followers are running for office.
With 18 months to go before the 2022 midterms, QAnon supporters are already seizing on the GOP’s embrace of the conspiracy theory and throwing their hats in the ring for a seat in Congress.
So far, 19 people who have publicly shown support for the QAnon conspiracy theory have declared their intention to run in House and Senate races across the country, according to an investigation by Media Matters for America (MMFA).
All but one of the candidates are running as Republican candidates. The single anomaly is Mindy Robinson, who is running as an independent candidate in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, running under the “Patriot Party of Nevada” banner.
Like 14 others on the list, Robinson was a candidate for Congress in the 2020 election, and like all but two of those, she lost.
The two candidates who ran successfully in 2020 are Rep. Lauren Boebert from Colorado and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, who are both up for reelection next year.
The number of QAnon-supporting candidates is likely to increase as the 2022 elections approach (in 2020 the final tally of QAnon supporters who ran for Congress was 97, according to a tracker set up by MMFA).
Like many of the candidates on the list, Boebert and Greene have sought to distance themselves from the most extreme fringes of the QAnon movement, despite repeatedly displaying support for the conspiracy on social media and in video interviews.
But there are some who are proud to express their support for QAnon. Like Jo Rae Perkins, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Oregon, where she unsuccessfully ran in 2020.
In a video interview with Right Wing Watch last year, Perkins compared the Q posts to secret codes used during World War II and said there is a “very strong probability/possibility that ‘Q’ is a real group of people, military intelligence, working with President Trump.” She also compared believing in Q to believing in Jesus Christ.
Perkins is very open about the fact that QAnon is part of her campaign strategy, and she contends, “There’s a lot more people that are running for political office that follow Q than are admitting to it.”
The candidates are located in all corners of the U.S., from New Jersey and Maryland to California and Colorado. But Florida, home to former President Donald Trump, stands out: 5 of the 19 QAnon candidates are running for seats in the state.
Among them is Anthony Sabatini, an incumbent member of the Florida House of Representatives and now running in Florida’s 11th Congressional District. In May 2020, he tweeted a link to a site that previously collected Q posts.
Also running in Florida is Reba Sherrill, who in 2020 unsuccessfully ran in Florida’s 21st Congressional District, home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Undeterred, Sherrill is returning in 2022 and running as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Sherrill has been open about her support of QAnon, attending a Florida QAnon “Great Awakening” event in 2020, during which she said, “I’ve been following Q since the beginning.”
And like Perkins, she’s made QAnon central to her campaign. On her website, Sherrill seems to reference the adrenochrome conspiracy theory—a belief among QAnon supporters that Democratic elites harvest that drug from children by torturing them and drinking their blood.
QAnon supporters—and Trump—are currently obsessed with a controversial election audit taking place in Maricopa County in Arizona at the moment, hoping it will lead to the election results for the entire country being overturned.
And two candidates in districts that are partially in Maricopa County are trying to take advantage of this obsession. Josh Barnett is running as a Republican candidate in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, and Daniel Wood is a Republican candidate running in Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District. Both unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2020.
While the Republican Party’s leadership has sought to distance itself somewhat from the QAnon movement in the wake of the Capitol riot, where believers played a central role, many of the core beliefs of QAnon groups have been absorbed by the GOP.
In particular, the widespread belief that the 2020 presidential election was somehow stolen. The so-called “Big Lie” can be traced back to conspiracy theories first shared and promoted by QAnon groups.
A survey conducted in early March, two months after the Capitol insurrection, found that almost a quarter of Republicans believed the central QAnon conspiracy that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.” And, disturbingly, almost 30% of Republicans believe that to fix the problem, “true American patriots have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”