Pro-Trump internet personality Omar Navarro emerged from a six-month stint in jail on a stalking charge last month, and immediately registered to run for Congress.
Navarro, a perennial challenger to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), has registered to run for her seat again in 2022—assuming, perhaps logically, that Waters will once again prevail in her re-election request this November.
But Navarro, who had nearly $50,000 in his campaign bank account as of March 31 even while he served his jail term, is not going to wait for those results before getting involved. He told The Daily Beast that he’s going to send out mailers this election cycle denouncing Joe Collins, the Republican nominee currently running against Waters.
“Hey, I don’t agree with him,” Navarro told The Daily Beast. “I believe Maxine Waters is better than him.”
Asked for comment on Navarro’s sour-grapes scheme to ruin Collins’s already slim chances of winning this fall, Collins responded by accusing Navarro of having “daddy issues” without elaborating.
"Omar Navarro is a joke,” Collins told The Daily Beast. “He has the mentality of a four year old child throwing a temper tantrum and the testicular fortitude of a mouse.”
The scrapping between Collins and Navarro for the chance to lose to Waters highlights the odd incentives facing Republican challengers taking on famous incumbents in heavily Democratic districts.
Running against Waters as a Republican would be a poor choice for anyone who actually wants to win. Indeed, Navarro has tried twice already, losing by more than 50 percentage points in 2016 and 2018. But for a GOPer interested in raising millions off of Waters’s notoriety as a devoted Trump foe, and increasing his profile in the pro-Trump mediasphere, it works out great. Navarro raked in donations from low-dollar contributors and saw his stature on the online Trump right explode thanks to his quixotic earlier campaigns. Even the candidates themselves acknowledge the money that’s at stake for whoever wins the right to face off against Waters.
“The main reason Navarro is upset is because he's used to living off of his campaign donations and now he's facing the realization that, after being beaten by a real candidate with a shot at winning, he has to find a real job,” Collins said in his email.
For Navarro, that time in the bright lights of online Trumpy fame came to a halt when he was arrested in December in San Francisco after stalking ex-girlfriend and fellow Republican personality DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, who herself was running a doomed campaign against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Navarro eventually pleaded guilty to a stalking charge, and was sentenced to six months in San Francisco’s jail, where he claims to have lost 30 pounds.
Even while imprisoned in San Francisco, Navarro kept up his political profile. And he stayed on the ballot, losing the March Republican primary to Collins by a mere 250 votes—a 0.3 percent difference in the vote total.
Undeterred by that loss, Navarro has tried to recast himself since being released from jail as the latest victim of deep-state prosecutors. While other Trump supporters who faced criminal charges were involved in international intrigue, however, Navarro has been faced with claiming that he was arrested on a local stalking charge because of some secret government scheme.
“Full disclosure with you guys: in the past six months, yes, I have been in a county jail,” Navarro told his more than 250,000 Twitter followers after being released from jail.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Navarro violated Tesoriero’s restraining order against him, including the fact that Navarro bashed Tesoriero to The Daily Beast in apparent violation of the order, Navarro claims that he only pleaded guilty because he would have become a “political prisoner” if he hadn’t.
“I wouldn’t have been judged by a jury of my peers, I would’ve been judged by a bunch of liberals, and they would have kept me locked up in there as a political prisoner,” Navarro said in his Twitter video. “And that’s not OK.”
While it might seem strange for the recently imprisoned Navarro to be confident he can win the 2022 primary to challenge Waters, he is aided by the fact that Collins has a bizarre history of his own.
A Navy veteran, Collins has continuously switched parties since 2016, cycling between being a Democrat, a Republican, a member of the Green Party, and a member of the “Millennial Political Party.” Collins has also filed a lawsuit over child support payments that is riddled with language echoing the nonsense legal language used by members of the far-right sovereign citizen movement. At one point in his lawsuit, in an apparent attempt to deploy a fringe legal theory, Collins claimed that his bodily fluids were worth $15 million—a bizarre detail Navarro has seized on in his campaign to bring down his rival.
“You’re the guy that’s gonna take down Maxine Waters?” Navarro said in a video taunting Collins that he released in late June. “I’m sorry, but you’re not gonna do that. And by the way, your bodily fluids are not worth $15 million.”