It has long been true that political parties have quietly ignored wacky candidates within their ranks running for unwinnable seats. But as the Republican Party has gotten progressively more meshugganah under Donald Trump, its candidates have blossomed into a virtual cornucopia of the worst, basest nature of the party. From QAnon nutters to car thieves to white supremacists, these Republican congressional candidates are some of America’s worst selves.
Trump no longer carries the same weight in GOP congressional races that he once did. In at least three recent primaries, Republican voters have gone against the candidate Trump endorsed, The Washington Post reports. But even if Trump’s hold is ebbing ever so slightly, Trumpism—that state of having insane racist moron candidates running for something they’re completely unqualified for—is alive and well.
It turns out that Trump wasn’t an isolated case but is instead a pustule symptomatic of the larger GOP infection, like in one of those Star Trek episodes where some savage life-form takes over the Enterprise. The 2020 election features some of the most despicable Republican congressional candidates America has ever seen. They’re candidates who are beyond satire, types who make Veep look like a PBS documentary.
Congressional candidate and former air force pilot Buzz Patterson is running for California’s 7th district in the area that makes up the southern suburbs of Sacramento, he’s running against Ami Bera who's held the seat since 2013. Buzz was more than happy to support Trump’s Kung flu racism tweeting, “So, if ‘Kung flu’ is racist, does that make Bruce Lee and ‘Kung fu’ movies racist? And that song back in the 70s?” And Buzz is a Qanon supporter and a big fan of Mike Fynn. Of course there are 57 former or active republican congressional candidates who support Qanon so he's not alone.
In St. Louis, Winnie Heartstrong is a George Floyd truther who released “a 23-page document laying out a series of incoherent conspiracy theories about Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.” Heartstrong, who is Black, postulates that Floyd died years ago. She writes in her manifesto: “We conclude that no one in the video is really one person but rather they are all digital composites of two or more real people to form completely new digital persons using deepfake technology”—and that the video was meant to stoke racial tensions.
Luckily, this district is a D +29, according to the Cook Political Report, so my guess is we aren’t likely to see a Rep. Heartstrong—or Rep. Obike, which was the name she used when she ran for office in Maryland in 2018—anytime soon. She is, however, likely to win the Republican primary on Aug. 4.
And then there’s “former reality show star and convicted felon Angela Stanton-King,” who is running against John Lewis in Georgia. She's hot off a stint in jail—and a Trump pardon. Stanton-King, like so many honorable members of Congress, was jailed for “federal conspiracy charges for her role in a car theft ring.”
Angela is the goddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, who is an anti-abortion activist and one of the few African-Americans in the world who supports Trump. The district is a D +34, so it seems Stanton-King’s penance for her time as lawbreaker will never include a stint as lawmaker.
And no round-up of the biggest Republican nutters would be complete without Laura Loomer. She is famous for any number of dubious honors, the most dubious of which is that she’s been banned from “Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Medium, GoFundMe, Venmo, MGM Resorts, PayPal, Lyft, Uber and Uber Eats.” She’s running in Florida’s 21st District against Lois Frankel.
The district is a D +9, according to Cook. Single digits in Cook is gettable in the right kind of wave year. Loomer’s campaign released a somewhat suspicious internal poll which showed her with a 9-point lead; not entirely clear how she and her team cooked that up, but God bless them for whatever sorcery got them there. In any case, this sure isn’t looking like a Republican wave year, so it seems unlikely that Loomer will bring her insane racism to Congress.
But not all these fringe candidates will be footnotes in history. Georgia’s 14th District may actually elect QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene. In a video, Greene said “many of the things that he [Q] has given clues about and talked on 4Chan and other forums have really proven to be true.”
And she’s been endorsed by terrifying Trumpist and professional crime-ignorer (allegedly!) Jim Jordan, who called her “exactly the kind of fighter needed in Washington to stand with me against the radical left.” Since Steve King lost his primary, Marjorie maybe can take his spot for the most unhinged Republican congressperson, though the competition will be fierce.
A lot of times we think of Trumpism as a cancerous tumor, an isolated incident, a deviation from the norm. And while these Republican nominees are more dramatically wacky than the usual Republicans, they are very much at home in the party of Trump.
Sure, Marjorie Taylor Greene believes in QAnon. But Louie Gohmert says protesters are trying to foment a Bolshevik revolution, and Tom Cotton wrote an entire opinion piece about how we should buy Greenland, which isn’t for sale, and then there’s Marsha Blackburn, who ran an advertisement saying that she “stopped the sale of baby body parts,” which wasn’t true because that wasn’t happening, and now she’s a senator!
No, the Republican Party is very much rotten to its very core, Trump is merely a symptom, the pus in a boil, the fluid in a cyst, the necrotic tissue in the festering wound that is the Republican Party.