Jo Rae Perkins, the Republican challenger to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), is trying to distance herself from the QAnon conspiracy theory a day after she proclaimed that she “stands with Q.”
“I’m disheartened that less than 24 hours after my win, my words were already being spun through the fake news machine and taken out of context,” she said in a statement to TPM. “I was not endorsing Q/Anon, but rather stating that I appreciate the fact that there is still free speech in this country that allows for voices – including whistleblowers from both sides of the aisle – that may, or may not, bring to light issues Americans need to be aware of.”
On Tuesday, after she won the Republican primary with a nearly 50 percent plurality, she name-checked the conspiracy theory twice in an 18-second Twitter video. She also brandished a sticker bearing the group’s motto in hashtag form: where we go one, we go all.
QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory involving the belief that there is a “deep state” working against President Donald Trump. Its acolytes also believe that a final judgment-like “Storm” is coming, during which prominent Democrats and pop culture figures will be tried for their crimes. Some followers baselessly accuse Trump’s enemies of practicing Satanism and of being pedophiles.
Perkins also said in her statement that he would “never describe herself as a follower” of the patchwork belief system, though her social media accounts are riddled with QAnon posts.
“For those who state Q is conspiracy, rhetorical question for you; what if you are wrong?” she wrote on Twitter in December 2019. “If I am wrong, then the mathematical improbability of consequences failed! We’ve been fed many lies for years and YOU are too afraid to look behind the curtain. I’m not!”
Perkins is a frequent candidate, having run twice for a U.S. House seat and once before for a Senate one.
She’ll go up against Merkley in November. Though there is little polling in the state, he won his last race handily and the seat is considered a safe Democratic hold.