Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Candidates in some state legislature races share QAnon conspiracy theory content

"Candidates engaging with the QAnon conspiracy theory are running for seats in state legislatures this year, breathing more oxygen into a once-obscure conspiracy movement that has grown in prominence since adherents won Republican congressional primaries this year," Jonathan J. Cooper and Steve Karnowski report for The Associated Press. "They make up a tiny share of the thousands of state legislative candidates on the ballot in November and many are longshots, but several, including in Arizona, Minnesota and Wisconsin, are running in competitive districts."

Some candidates don't describe themselves as QAnon adherents, but some, like Dave Armstrong, a Republican running for the Wisconsin Assembly, "have repeatedly shared QAnon memes and interacted extensively with social media accounts promoting the conspiracy — which is centered on the baseless belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the 'deep state' and a child sex trafficking ring," Cooper and Karnowski report. "Others have acted in ways that leave it unclear whether they believe in the theory or may be merely flirting with the ideas to garner attention."

The QAnon conspiracy theory has been gaining attention among mainstream politicians, especially "after Marjorie Taylor Greene won the Republican primary for a U.S. House seat in a heavily GOP Georgia district last month. Greene was invited to the White House for Trump’s acceptance speech during the Republican National Convention," Cooper and Karnowski report. "Trump has said he knows little about the movement but has spoken favorably of its followers. Vice President Mike Pence has dismissed it."

Cooper and Karnowski note that, while congressional races often get more attention, "state legislative positions serve as springboards to higher office, and their holders wield significant power to affect everyday life — determining state policies on education, policing, health care, criminal justice and other issues."

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