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Believer in QAnon conspiracy theory wins Republican Senate nomination in Oregon

A father and son in QAnon shirts listen before President Trump arrives to speak at a “Keep America Great Rally” on Aug. 1 in Cincinnati.
A father and son in QAnon shirts listen before President Trump arrives to speak at a “Keep America Great Rally” on Aug. 1 in Cincinnati. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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Oregon Republicans on Tuesday elected a Senate nominee who believes in QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that has taken root among some far-right supporters of President Trump.

Jo Rae Perkins bested three other candidates to win the GOP nomination to face Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in November.

In a now-deleted video posted to her Twitter account Tuesday night, Perkins said she supports the conspiracy theory, which revolves around “Q,” an anonymous Internet user claiming to be a government agent with top security clearance.

“Where we go one, we go all,” Perkins said in the video, reciting a QAnon slogan. “I stand with President Trump. I stand with Q and the team. Thank you Anons, and thank you patriots. And together, we can save our republic.”

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QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory, is fueled by right-wing outrage online and in the real world. (Video: Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

In a statement Wednesday night, Perkins backtracked slightly from her comments, saying that she does not fully embrace QAnon.

“To be very clear, I do not believe everything from Q/Anon and would never describe myself as a follower, but I also do not believe in infringing upon any outlet’s right to discuss news or topics,” Perkins said.

She added: “My slogan, For One Oregon, has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or media bias, but rather, has long been my commitment to being a civil servant for all of Oregon, not just some as has been the case under Jeff Merkley’s tenure.”

Merkley is heavily favored to win in November, but Perkins’s primary victory nonetheless presents a dilemma for Republicans in Washington.

Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he would need to learn more about Perkins but that the organization generally gives its backing to GOP candidates.

“I don’t know anything about that,” Young said when asked about Perkins’s belief in QAnon. “I’ll have to learn more about it, but the NRSC tends to support Republican candidates, as you know.”

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to comment when asked about Perkins’s candidacy.

Merkley, too, declined to weigh in. “I don’t have any comment on it,” he said Wednesday at the Capitol.