Support for QAnon, the baseless right-wing conspiracy theory that puts Trump at the centre of a secret movement dismantling an elite pedophile ring, appears to be surging in the Republican Party.
More than 70 people who ran in their district's primaries have been accused of supporting QAnon in some way, the vast majority of them Trump supporters.
We've rounded up everyone who has been accused of supporting QAnon who's got a realistic chance of winning their local election.
But first, what exactly is QAnon?
'QAnon' represents a sprawling network of baseless conspiracy theories, linking everything from 5G to the Titanic, Satanic rituals, the Freemasons, the Illuminati and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It overlaps in places with Pizzagate, the conspiracy theory falsely claiming Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief John Podesta run a child sex abuse ring in a Washington pizzeria.
QAnon began in 2017 when posts by 'Q' began to appear on the website 4chan from someone claiming to have insider knowledge about Hollywood and the United States government. They claimed that elites at the top of these institutions are running a global pedophile ring and that Trump is part of the secret resistance trying to stop it.
They later added that these elites engage in the sacrifice of abused children, harvesting a life-lengthening chemical from their blood. It has also been alleged that Trump's attempts to curtail this behaviour have been frustrated by 'the deep state'.
Why does it matter if candidates for congress support it?
Support for QAnon helps to legitimise the spread of misinformation and the treatment of baseless conspiracy theories as valid beliefs in the political sphere. This is something of a theme in Trump's presidency: he tweets incessantly about Obamagate, is convinced that USPS is enabling voter fraud and has even touted bleach as a coronavirus treatment, all while railing against "fake news".
And QAnon can be dangerous. The belief at the core of the conspiracy theory, that a small, secret network of people hold undue influence over the government and entertainment industry, is anti-Semitic. QAnon posts also frequently contain anti-Semitic slurs.
In May last year, the FBI warned in a bulletin that conspiracy theories like QAnon and Pizzagate represent a potential domestic terrorist threat. Pizzagate adherents have shot at members of the public, while the Pittsburgh shooter, who murdered 11 people in a synagogue, referenced anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on his social media.
Where is this support coming from?
Support for QAnon has been existent since 2017, although it appears to be building in anticipation of the 2020 presidential election.
On top of this, he has endorsed vocally pro-QAnon candidates like Marjorie Taylor Greene, whom he described as a "rising Republican star".
Support for QAnon, while not actively encouraged in the Republican Party, is, then, tolerated at the very least. Appeasing or even appealing to its followers as a congressional candidate is by no means a ticket out of the party – and, in fact, is quite common.
The following people are alleged QAnon supporters who have won their district's primaries, meaning they'll be on the ballot in November.
Each person on this list either has a good chance of winning in their congressional district, or an outside chance at the least.
Some have been accused of supporting QAnon based on social media posts, but deny that they do.
Boebert, an anti-abortion and pro-gun restaurant owner in her mid-30s, beat out longstanding Republican congressman Scott Tipton to secure nomination in Colorado's 3rd district.
She will run against Democrat nominee Diane Mitsch Bush for election, and is likely to win according to ratings from the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections.
Boebert encourages staff members at Shooters Grill, her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, to openly carry firearms. Her restaurant was hit with a temporary cease and desist order earlier this year as she refused to close its doors to customers during the coronavirus lockdown.
Boebert voiced mild support for QAnon while appearing on Steel Truth, a web show hosted by QAnon follower Ann Vandersteel. Asked for her opinion on the conspiracy theory, she said:
From everything I've heard of Q, I hope that this is real because it only means America is getting stronger and better. People are returning to conservative values and that's what I'm for.
Everything I have heard of this movement is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger, and if this is real then it could be really great for our country.
But later asked by Denver Post reporter Jon Murray whether she would classify herself as a QAnon follower, Boebert said that she would not.
Her appearance on QAnon-supporting shows like Steel Truth and Patriots' Soapbox, as well as her admission that her mother is an ardent supporter, might suggest that she's at least sympathetic to Q's followers.
Cruz is unlikely to win against Democrat incumbent Raul Ruiz in California's 36th district, but she does have a fighting chance. In 2018, the Republican candidate swept more than 40 per cent of the vote, an increase on 2016.
Cruz describes herself as a Tea Party Republican, and hosts her own YouTube show. According to NBC Newsshe has acknowledged that some of her QAnon-supporting followers have "legitimate concerns" and believes that QAnon posts some valid information. She reportedly added:
I don't believe that candidates this day and age against a big party machine or machines can dismiss any person, any voter out there. And so with that, I would say, no, you shouldn't be dismissing individuals like QAnon supporters or believers.
QAnon is not specifically mentioned in Cruz's campaign literature.
Marjorie Taylor Greene
Greene, a business woman who described Q as a "patriot worth listening to", is running against Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal for election in Georgia's 14th district.
Like Lauren Boebert, Greene beat the district's incumbent Republican congressman to secure nomination, and is likely to win based on precedent. In 2018, the Republican candidate Tom Graves beat Democrat Steven Foster with 77 per cent of the vote.
Greene has posted multiple slogans on social media associated with QAnon, including 'trust the plan' and "#GreatAwakening'. She uploaded a video of herself explaining the basics of the conspiracy theory, concluding "many of the things he has given clues about and talked about on 4chan and other forums have really proven to be true".
@annamerlan Marjorie Taylor Greene, candidate for congress, also happens to be a QAnon follower. https://t.co/lQzOScwXiy
Greene described the election of Muslim officials to government office as an "Islamic invasion" and claimed that Black and Hispanic men are held back by "gangs and dealing drugs".
Patterson has an outside chance of winning California's 7th congressional district from Democrat incumbent Ami Bera.
Although The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections both say the seat is 'Solid Democrat', the race has been close in previous years. In 2018, the Democrats won with 55 per cent of the vote, while in 2016 they won with just 51 per cent.
Patterson, a retired US Air Force pilot who served as a senior military aide to Bill Clinton, has been roundly equivocal about his support for Q.
On Twitter, he indicated that he supports the movement.
We can now add Buzz Patterson to the list of QAnon-loving Republican congressional candidates. https://t.co/S3wNPjANFA
But he later denied this, telling Axios that he doesn't recall sending the tweet and doesn't "follow or endorse" anything Q says.
Wood has an outside chance of winning Arizona's 3rd district: the race has been tight in previous years, although the Democrats usually win in the end.
He has used QAnon hashtags and slogans repeatedly on social media and shared material from QAnon-supporting accounts.
Many more congressional candidates who are unlikely to win their districts based on precedent and current polling have also been accused of voicing support for QAnon or sharing related material. They are:
Josh Barnett, Republican, Arizona’s 7th district: denied supporting QAnon despite posting related social media posts and hashtags.
Joyce Bentley, Republican, Nevada's 1st district: tweeted "Q - We are the Plan".
Mike Cargile, Republican, California's 25th district: voiced support for QAnon supporters and used related hashtags.
Ron Curtis, Republican, Hawaii's 1st district: tweeted in support of QAnon and shared related videos.
Derrick Grayson, Republican, Georgia special election: tweeted a QAnon slogan and hashtag.
Ayyadurai, who claims he invented the email (this is heavily disputed), has tweeted using QAnon hashtags.
Even if he successfully beats Kevin O'Conner for the Republican nomination in Massachusetts, he is highly unlikely to win the election as he is running in a Democrat safe seat.
Ben Gibson, Republican, Louisiana’s 4th district.
It's not impossible that Gibson will beat current Republican incumbent Mike Johnson for nomination: both Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene achieved this.
And if he does, he's in a with a pretty good chance of winning the traditionally red district.
'QAnon' is among the hashtags from one of his Facebook posts (but then again, so is "meme" and "liberal" for some reason).
Gibson has also shared racist rhetoric about the "threat of radical Islam [plaguing] the world" on Facebook.
Bob Lancia, Republican, Rhode Island's 2nd district.
If he beats Donald F. Robbio for nomination, Lancia is unlikely to win this traditionally Democrat district, but he has represented Rhode Island before: he was the 16th district's congressman between 2015 and 2018.
Lancia appears to have retweeted pro-QAnon posts, but denies involvement in this. He told The Radio that someone else handles his Twitter campaign and probably shared the posts because they were attached to messages of support for the president.
Lovvorn is pretty likely to win her primary, given that she's running unopposed. But if 2018 is anything to go by, she's unlikely to win the election: she lost with 33 per cent of the vote to the Democrat incumbent Jim McGovern's 67 per cent.
She posted hashtags related to QAnon on Twitter.
Never forget, we are all in this TOGETHER. #WWG1WGA #JFK .#ChooseLovv https://t.co/YeoZHq5piG
A further 47 congressional candidates who have been accused of posting or sharing pro-QAnon material lost their primaries, dropped out of the race or have an unknown status.
Of these, two are Democrats, one Libertarian, one Independent and 43 are Republicans. A complete list of their names and alleged support for QAnon can be found here.
The two Democrats are Ari Friedman, who may be running in Ohio's 11th district, and James Mitchell who ran in Washington's 8th district.
The status of Friedman's campaign is unclear because his official website is down and he's been suspended from Twitter. It's also unclear why he chose to run as a Democrat, given his vocal support for Trump, QAnon and Pizzagate.
Mitchell, meanwhile, lost his primary to Kim Schrier. He describes himself as a "pro-life Democrat" and has accused Black Lives Matter of being a "front" for "top level corruption in the Democrat party".
Mitchell also used the phrase "drain the swap", a favourite of Trump and the Republicans, in his campaign literature and is sceptical about the efficacy of vaccines. He has shared material about several baseless conspiracy theories including Pizzagate, Obamagate and QAnon.
QAnon is creeping further and further into mainstream politics.
The number of congressional candidates who have voiced support for QAnon on social media should strike us as profoundly concerning.
Far from being a harmless fantasy, QAnon represents dangerous misinformation.
It should have no place on the internet – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all removed QAnon material from their websites – let alone in government.