Washington (CNN) – In November 2017, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a small business owner in the suburbs of Atlanta, uploaded a nearly half-hour long video to Facebook describing the elements of a new conspiracy theory called QAnon that puts President Donald Trump in an imaginary battle against a sinister cabal of democrats and celebrities abusing children.
“Q is a patriot, we know for sure,” Greene said in the video, which has since been deleted. “There is a golden opportunity to turn off this global cabal of pedophiles who worship Satan and I think we have the president who does that,” she said, referring to Trump.
There is no factual evidence or basis for the conspiracy theory. In the three years since the conspiracy was born, QAnon has grown from an American virtual cult to a global phenomenon. QAnon beliefs are not only disconnected from reality, they can also trigger violence in the real world. The FBI warned last year that QAnon posed a potential domestic terrorist threat.
And now the people who have been studying QAnon conspiracy theory, including Greene, are running for Congress.
Nearly two dozen Republicans across the country who have been involved in the QAnon conspiracy will appear on the ballot in their congressional districts – or, in two cases, nationwide, as Senate candidates – as well as an unaffiliated independent candidate and an independent party candidate. Each candidate on this list has had some degree of exposure to QAnon. Some studied QAnon content online before seeking political office in their personal accounts and later in their official campaign accounts. others have appeared on QAnon-related shows and talked about conspiracy theory.
There are other candidates who have previously made allusions or coded references to QAnon – for example, by making human and child trafficking a top campaign priority – but CNN only includes candidates on this list who have specifically addressed conspiracy theory.
CNN reached out to each candidate to comment on how they looked at QAnon and whether they supported the conspiracy theory. Many did not respond to requests for comment. Of the candidates who commented on CNN, many tried to distance themselves from QAnon, saying they would rather focus on campaign issues. Some candidates said they knew nothing about it, others called it a “news source”, while at least one candidate said they supported the “Q-Team” “100%”. Greene, who tried to win back her support for QAnon after winning her primary runoff in Congress, ignored the content of the request for comment and attacked CNN.
Most of these candidates are expected to lose their races, and some can easily lose if they go up against Democrats in blue districts. Only two contestants stand a chance of winning this November: Greene, who is sure to win her seat after her opponent is eliminated, and Colorado conservative businesswoman Lauren Boebert, whose Inside Elections home race with Nathan is classified as a “Tilt Republican” L. Gonzales, a CNN employee. Boebert defeated a reigning Republican in the primary and faces Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush.
Republican officials have done little to oppose their candidates who have become engaged to or adopted QAnon. Some GOP contracting states, such as the California GOP, have approved candidates promoting QAnon. In August, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy denounced the theory, saying “There is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party” and recently voted for a bipartisan resolution condemning QAnon, but he also endorsed Greene as did Trump himself. Trump recently refused to denounce QAnon supporters after being told about the conspiracy theory. He said “they are very much against pedophilia” and he agreed with them.
CNN reached out to the California Republican Party and the National Republican Senatorial Committee for comment, but they did not respond. A Republican National Congress Committee spokesman Chris Pack said the organization is “focused on issues that matter to voters, not fringe internet conspiracy theories,” and accused the media of focusing on QAnon.
Here’s what the candidates said or posted to QAnon: