Appearing on the web show “Steel Truth” in mid-May, Republican congressional candidate Lauren Boebert took a deep breath, adjusted her glasses, and opened up about QAnon.
“Honestly, everything that I’ve heard of Q, I hope that this is real,” Boebert said. “Because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values. And that’s what I am for.”
Boebert on Tuesday night defeated a five-term, Trump-endorsed Republican congressman to become the party’s nominee for the House of Representatives in Colorado’s third district.
The district boasts a Republican plus-6 lean per the Cook Political Report, giving Boebert fairly good chances of reaching Congress.
She’s one of a small number of competitive candidates who’ve professed their interest in, or hopes about, QAnon — a vast and Byzantine conspiracy whose adherents believe, among other things, that Trump is engaged in a behind-the-scenes war against the “deep state” and an underground pedophile ring. “Q” refers to the anonymous online moniker of a supposedly high-ranking official, or officials, who leaves cryptic breadcrumbs for their followers in the form of online gibberish.
The President congratulated Boebert Tuesday night for her “really great win.”
The ‘QAnon Caucus’
While 2020 has seen dozens of candidates who profess belief in QAnon, most aren’t competitive. Boebert joins Marjorie Greene, a Republican out of Georgia’s 14th district, as one who is.
Greene is well-positioned for a primary runoff on August 11, after she finished 20 points ahead of the next closest competitor, neurosurgeon John Cowan. The district is heavily Republican, so the winner of the GOP primary will likely take the seat.
She too earned a presidential congratulations, along with a handful of initial endorsements from the likes of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and the House Freedom Caucus.
Greene is outspoken about her interest in the most extreme branches of QAnon, and has recorded a slew of unrelated but racist and Islamophobic videos to boot. She had amassed a significant social media following, which formed the foundation of her bid.
But her preliminary success — and the growing trove of recordings and social media posts documenting her beliefs — has greatly discomfited Republican leadership, many of whom have issued disavowals or endorsed her opponent.
‘Hell No, You’re Not’
Boebert, the surprise Colorado nominee, got her name out there through a good old-fashioned confrontation: When then-Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke made gun control a major component of his campaign, following a shooting massacre in his hometown of El Paso, Boebert called him out at a campaign stop.
“I was one of the gun-owning Americans that heard your speech, regarding ‘hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15s.’ Well, I’m here to say hell no, you’re not,” she told the candidate.
She’s got street cred on the topic: Boebert owns a restaurant, “Shooters Grill” in Rifle, CO, where wait staff openly carry pistols on their hips and firearms adorn the walls.
Much of Boebert’s May interview on “Steel Truth,” focused on her clash with health officials — she repeatedly opened Shooters Grill for service in defiance of local COVID-19 orders. Ultimately, the county suspended her restaurant after she ignored a cease-and-desist order. (The license was reinstated later in May.)
But when host Ann Vandersteel brought up QAnon, Boebert said she was “very familiar” with the movement.
“Everything that I have heard of this movement is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger,” she added. “And if this is real, then it could be really great for our country.”
Later, Vandersteel noted that YouTube’s real-time commenters had responded to the affirmation by posting a QAnon slogan — “where we go one, we go all.”
“That’s very ‘Q,’ by the way,” Vandersteel said. “Like you said, we’re all in this together? It means the same thing.”
Boebert smiled. “We are,” she agreed.
Where They Go One, They Go All
The QAnon caucus of congressional hopefuls is expansive, though, unfortunately for the movement, filled almost entirely with underdogs.
One such candidate, Republican nominee Jo Rae Perkins, will take on Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in November. Perkins garnered a flood of headlines when she won her primary and celebrated by brandishing a sticker emblazoned with the “where we go one, we go all” phrase.
She walked back those beliefs in a statement — but, soon after that, said that her campaign advisers had bullied her into issuing the retraction, disavowing the disavowal.
When Greene came out ahead in the first round of her primary, Perkins told TPM that she was “happy” to have another candidate who is vocal about reading QAnon posts.
Perkins, Greene and Boebert are some of the dozens of QAnon-supporting candidates Media Matters has tracked — though most have either lost their primaries or face steep odds ahead.
One possible contender is Buzz Patterson, the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who trailed the incumbent Democratic Rep. Ami Bera by 17 points in the March 3 jungle primary. Asked on Twitter a month later whether he supported the “Q movement,” Patterson responded with a “Yep!”
Then there’s Angela Stanton-King, who in February got a pardon from President Donald Trump and in March posted a QAnon-themed video on Instagram with the caption, “This would explain why they tried so hard to make us hate him…” (Stanton-King ran unopposed for the Republican nomination to face off against Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).)
In February, after receiving her pardon, Stanton-King appeared with a group of Trump’s Black supporters to pray with him in the Oval Office. A political neophyte, she has sought to translate her proximity to the President into a long-shot bid against the veteran lawmaker.
“I have never run for office and I don’t have political experience,” Stanton-King said. “But I do have life experiences.”
Correction: This post originally miscounted the margin of Buzz Patterson’s second-place primary finish. He trailed Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) by 17 points, not seven.
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