“Trump supporting anti-Muslim bigot and fringe extremist Laura Loomer. Congrats, Republicans. This is what you’ve become,” tweeted Wajahat Ali, a New York Times opinion contributor.
As The Washington Post’s Rachael Bade and Isaac Stanley-Becker reported, the GOP is struggling to navigate Trump’s embrace of fringe candidates who have made statements denigrating Americans’ religions and ethnicities. That tendency was on display last week when the president backed Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia GOP candidate who openly backs the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Among the tweets Trump shared on Tuesday night was a post from Greene with a photo of her posing alongside Loomer and a demand Twitter reinstate Loomer’s account.
She has since styled herself a free-speech activist, and once handcuffed herself to Twitter’s New York headquarters to demand the return of her account.
Her bid for Congress, which has been supported by recently pardoned Trump ally Roger Stone and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, raised a startling $1.1 million — far more than the five other candidates bidding for the Republican ticket in a district that includes parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties.
In the general election, she will face a far more difficult battle against four-term Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel, who will be heavily favored in the traditionally blue district.
Republicans in the area have largely embraced her candidacy, which she tied to Trump’s campaign promises of law and order. Both the president and first lady Melania Trump cast absentee ballots in the race, though neither have said who got their vote.
“I’ve been saying for a while that she was the front-runner and tonight is no surprise,” Michael Barnett, chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County, told The Washington Post on Tuesday. “Look forward to working with her to help her get elected to Congress and defeating Lois Frankel.”
But some Republicans also pushed back on her primary victory, including JT Lewis, a Trump supporter and recent GOP candidate for Connecticut state Senate whose brother was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre. Lewis said he objected to Loomer’s work with Infowars, which spread false claims that the murder of 20 children and six staff members at the school was a hoax and aired similar claims about the Parkland mass shooting.
“Laura Loomer is a Parkland and Sandy Hook hoaxer. She has no place in the Republican Party I know!” Lewis tweeted on Tuesday night.