Far-right activist Laura Loomer built her name—and her notoriety—on her willingness to launch political attacks almost no one else would. She crashed a Shakespeare in the Park performance of Julius Caesar that featured a Donald Trump stand-in getting stabbed. She duped undocumented immigrants into trespassing on Nancy Pelosi’s lawn.
Perhaps most infamously, she responded to being banned by Twitter by handcuffing herself to a door outside the tech giant’s New York office while wearing a Star of David. (Since Loomer only chained herself to one door, Twitter employees could still get in and out of the building).
Now in her second bid for Congress, this time in a primary fight against Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL), Loomer has found a new oddball line of attack. Her opponent, she claims, is so feeble he wears a Life Alert necklace with a button to alert emergency responders if he has a fall.
“We don’t need members of Congress who are walking around wearing Life Alert necklaces, too sick to vote,” Loomer told The Daily Beast, citing a picture she claims shows Webster wearing the necklace.
Despite Loomer’s insistence, though, there’s substantial evidence that Webster isn’t wearing a Life Lock necklace. Instead, he appears to be wearing a personal air ionizer, a device intended to purify the air around him. Webster is such an enthusiast of the device that he even praised it in a 2021 House hearing.
Still, in an age where Republicans scour Joe Biden’s speeches for proof that he’s senile, Loomer’s attacks on Webster, 73, might get some traction. But Loomer, 29, is running in Florida’s 11th District, the home to the massive retirement community known as The Villages—perhaps the worst place to push an attack on an opponent’s age and health problems.
“If there is any district in America that is sympathetic to that, it is that district,” said Dr. James C. Clark, an expert on Florida politics and a senior lecturer at the University of Central Florida. “Florida 11 has more residents 65 or over than any district in the country. One out of three people in the district is over 65.”
Loomer’s attempts to win over elderly voters by attacking Webster’s age reflects her struggle to attack him from the right. After getting walloped in her first congressional campaign and losing by 20 points to a Democratic representative in another Florida district, Loomer now finds herself struggling to paint a well-established congressman with a near-perfect conservative record as a “Republican in Name Only.”
Even Loomer’s signature public outbursts—a tactic her supporters have dubbed “Loomering”—haven’t succeeded. In April, Loomer and Webster, a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, both attended a local Republican club meeting. After Webster left after giving a brief speech, Loomer stood up and tried to win over the crowd by complaining that Webster hadn’t taken questions.
Instead of winning over new voters, though, Loomer seemed to antagonize them. The white-haired crowd grew restless as Loomer talked, and one woman shouted that her speech was upsetting her. An elderly man gently motioned for Loomer to sit down.
“This is not the place!” a woman who identified herself as a state Republican committeewoman thundered at Loomer.
Loomer gave up and sat down, grumbling to herself.
No public polling has been released on the race, and Loomer said her campaign would rather spend money on campaigning than taking polls. There is some anecdotal evidence of enthusiasm for Loomer. Last month, a fleet of seniors driving golf carts celebrated her campaign in The Villages. Loomer has raised roughly $100,000 more than Webster, but she’s also spent significantly more, leaving Webster with a roughly $200,000 cash-on-hand advantage at the end of June.
But Loomer has failed to secure perhaps the one thing that could help her compete with Webster: a Donald Trump endorsement. Loomer has made Webster’s decision to skip the post-Capitol riot impeachment vote against Trump into a centerpiece of her campaign, implying that Webster abandoned Trump in his moment of need. (Webster has said he had a family medical emergency). Even as she tries to paint herself as the more devoted Trump supporter, though, the ex-president has remained silent.
Loomer insisted that Trump still has time to endorse her before Florida’s Aug. 23 primary.
“I can’t speak for the president, but I’m a supporter, he knows I’m a supporter,” Loomer said.
In Trump’s absence, Loomer has endorsements from Roger Stone and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. But her allies aren’t always consistent.
On Sunday, Loomer is set to campaign with Stew Peters, a former bounty hunter turned far-right internet talk show host known for promoting the idea that snake venom has been injected into the water supply to give humans satanic DNA.
This week, Peters unveiled a “documentary” meant to revive the Satanic Panic, which includes the claim that a whopping 0.5 percent of American homes feature gruesome ceremonies meant to worship the devil. He also recently claimed that Loomer, who is Jewish, had become a Christian.
“Laura Loomer is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ,” the radio host declared Wednesday on messaging app Telegram.
Loomer told The Daily Beast that she’s a “proud Jewish woman,” saying she’s not sure why Peters said she had converted. Still, she described herself as a supporter of “Christian nationalism,” the far-right theocratic movement embraced by Rep. Marjorie TaylorGreene (R-GA).
“I’m in support of the Christian nationalist movement,” Loomer said.
It’s not clear why Loomer, who moved to the district last September, chose to run against Webster. Next door, Florida’s 7th District has a wide open Republican field, with incumbent Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) stepping down to spend more time with her family. But Loomer had already declared her bid against Webster before Murphy announced her retirement.
“I do not understand for the life of me why she didn’t go next door,” said Clark, the longtime Florida political observer.
Webster’s district poses other challenges to a newcomer. It’s a sprawling district with no single media market, making it expensive for Loomer to build up her campaign through advertising.
Making matters worse, Loomer has made a series of decisions that seem set to alienate voters. In 2018, she posed for mocking pictures in front of a fatal bridge collapse. This November, after the election, she’ll speak at a white nationalist conference.
Loomer also seems set on burning bridges with GOP leaders. She’s dubbed the Conservative Political Action Conference, which she was banned from after harassing reporters, “CringePAC.” Loomer has also attacked freshman Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX), who has been embraced by Republican bigwigs as a symbol of a more diverse Republican Party. In Telegram posts, Loomer has said that Republican leaders were parading Flores like a “neon piñata” and accused Flores, who is Mexican-American, of harboring secret loyalties to Mexico.
“She has got to be one of the dumbest new members of congress,” Loomer wrote in a Telegram post. “She spoiled faster than a gallon of milk.”
Asked about the long odds that her campaign seems to face, Loomer insisted she could win.
“I’m gonna win,” Loomer said. “I know there’s a lot of haters out there.”