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In this week’s newsletter:
- Laura Loomer set to capture a GOP House nomination.
- Frontline report from the QAnon civil war over hydroxychloroquine.
Laura Loomer Pushes Toward Congress
Anti-Muslim activist and fringe Trumpworld personality Laura Loomer is poised to move one step closer to the halls of Congress in two weeks—unless a little-known engineering professor can stop her.
Loomer is notorious, among other things, for chaining herself to Twitter’s front door, for being permanently booted from Uber Eats after calling for an Uber without Muslim drivers, and for calling Islam a “cancer on society.”
She’s tried to restyle herself this cycle as a less obviously hateful Republican candidate for her congressional bid in Florida’s 21st District, a seat now held by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), trading social media stunts for mundane fundraisers.
Loomer isn’t the only Trump internet personality to make a long-shot House bid this year. But unlike most of her compatriots who went on to primary defeat, Loomer has raised a ton of money ahead of her Aug. 18 primary, pulling in more than $1.1 million as of a Thursday FEC filing. Loomer also hired Karen Giorno, a well-connected Trump ally and former Florida campaign chief, for her campaign.
Plenty of Republican donors, it seems, want Loomer to bring “Loomering”—the trademark tactic where she yells at Democrats on camera—to Congress. But Loomer has also benefited from a weak primary field.
One-time Loomer rival and QAnon booster Michael Bluemling, for example, boasted to me back in January that he would “destroy” Loomer in the primary once he overcame her name-recognition advantage. Instead, Bluemling dropped out before the primary even happened.
At this point, the only potential Republican standing in Loomer’s way is Christian Acosta, a more traditional GOP candidate and engineering professor. The editorial board of Florida’s Sun Sentinel begged Republican voters to choose Acosta over Loomer in an endorsement, saying Loomer’s fundraising advantage was built on “bigotry and conspiracy theories.”
“If you have never heard of Laura Loomer, good,” the editorial read. “May this time be the last.”
Loomer looks set to carry the primary, but her general election prospects are far dimmer. Frankel has easily won her last few re-elections, against candidates less polarizing than Loomer. The district is rated D+9, suggesting that Loomer would be lucky to win in a Republican wave year—which 2020 is not shaping up to be.
So far, Loomer has struggled to tie Frankel to members of the progressive “Squad” in Congress. In another line of attack, Loomer comically demanded that Frankel personally protect Mar-a-Lago, which lies inside the district, from Iranian terrorists.
Despite all the evidence of a November flameout, Loomer’s conservative media allies have been going wild with some internal polls that I would generously describe as almost certainly wrong.
One internal campaign poll that has been trumpeted by fringe right-wing blogs and the Washington Times claims that Loomer is polling 9 points ahead of Frankel. Another, more reasonable poll from a Loomer-aligned group claimed that she’s just 4 points behind Frankel.
The stories about the polls lack even the most basic details about methodology or margin of error. Asked for more details about their internal poll or any proof that Loomer is nearly double digits ahead of a longtime incumbent who hasn’t even had a Republican challenger in some cycles, the Loomer campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Despite all evidence of a November flameout, Loomer claims she has already prepared stamped envelopes with letters taunting her haters when she wins the general.
“I already have envelopes addressed with postage ready to send out to all the haters in the media and the haters on the right and left who said I won’t win,” Loomer posted on Telegram, a messaging app popular with conservatives who have been received lifetime bans from more popular social networks.
Splinter QAnon Faction Hates Hydroxychloroquine Now
The QAnon conspiracy theory movement is premised on the idea that President Donald Trump’s foes will soon face summary executions at Guantanamo Bay. One QAnon promoter concerned about my fate, for example, was recently trying to pitch me on “coming clean” to save myself before the military tribunals.
But this week, QAnon is looking more like a circular firing squad, as QAnoners are consumed with a surprising debate: whether hydroxychloroquine is itself a tool of the deep state.
Five months into the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not unusual to see Trump supporters praising the supposed benefits of hydroxychloroquine. But now one faction of QAnoners says the drug is a trap, and it’s setting the mega-conspiracy theory movement aflame.
QAnon promoter Dylan Wheeler, who built a massive Twitter following with the name “Educating Liberals” before he was banned, has become the surprise face of the hydroxychloroquine skeptics. This week, Wheeler posted a rambling Instagram video of a man claiming that hydroxychloroquine somehow helps 5G towers—another conspiracy theorist target—roast your organs.
As a result, Wheeler said, he had to abandon QAnon.
“My only allegiance in this fallen world is to Jesus Christ - the truth, the way, & the life,” Wheeler wrote. “My spirit will no longer allow me to promote the Q movement.”
The turn against hydroxychloroquine is a bit baffling. But as best I can tell, it’s based on the idea that, if you think there needs to be a COVID-19 treatment, you have to accept the coronavirus is real. For Wheeler and his allies, then, it makes more sense to claim the drug “keeps nanoparticles inside your body.”
“No one actually wants to look into HCQ and realize that’s just another big pharma drug that’s being pushed on us over a virus that’s a complete hoax,” Wheeler declared in another video.
Wheeler’s QAnon apostasy has provoked a round of slams and subtweets from his one-time QAnon allies.
Wheeler didn’t respond to a request for a comment. But I suspect what’s really going on here is that Wheeler, like QAnon-supporting congressional candidates who suddenly claimed to have no idea what QAnon is, has realized that claiming that a huge segment of the country is involved in a demonic cult isn’t the most viable path to mainstream respectability.