GOP Congressional Candidate Matthew Lusk—A QAnon Conspiracy Believer April 23, 2019
Let’s face it. Demagogue Donald has made living in “Conspiracy World,” the “new normal.” No wild- eyed deluded nonsense is unbelievable to him and his fanatic followers. Even though she lost, Hillary “rigged” the 2016 election. Hillary received nearly 3 million more popular votes. Why? Because according to Trumpist “reasoning” (NOT), those millions of votes were, obviously, cast by illegals. Donald had the “biggest” inaugural crowd ever--“Yada, Yada, Yada.” We should not, therefore, be at all surprised that Donald and many in his fevered swamp-dwelling base are also delving into the wackiest of wacky beliefs—the QAnon Conspiracy. For those of us non-tin foil hat wearers let me explain. QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory detailing a supposed secret plot by an alleged “deep state” against Trump and his supporters. This “theory” was put on a 10/2017 post on the anonymous imageboard 4chan by someone using the tripcode “Q,” presumably an American individual. Multiple individuals may have joined the original “Q” (foxnews.com, Schallhorn, K., 8/03/18, Martineau, P., 12/09/17, reviewjournal.com, Brean, H., 7/13/18).
Many media outlets believe that QAnon is actually an “offshoot” of the widely discredited and debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory (Collins & Zadrozny, 7/16/18, NBC News). The absurd and dangerous Pizzagate nonsense started in the fall of 2016. Pizzagate backers falsely claimed that hacked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta contained coded messages referring to human trafficking. These messages connected several high-ranking Democratic officials to an alleged child sex ring involving D.C. restaurant/pizzeria Comet Ping Pong. Pizzagate was also spread on social media, including on 4chan and Twitter. On 12/04/2016, a 28-year old N. Carolinian fired three shots at this restaurant with an AR-15-style rifle. After surrendering to the police, attacker Edgar Maddison Welch stated that he had “planned to self-investigate” the conspiracy theory and “rescue” children. Fortunately, no one was hurt (Svrluga & Siddiqui, 12/04/16, washingtonpost.com).
QAnon’s ridiculous allegations have included stating that former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair, FL Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, hired the El Salvadorian MS-13 gang to murder DNC staffer Seth Rich. QAnon suggested on 3/01/2018 that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was Hitler’s granddaughter. QAnon falsely holds that Obama, Hillary, George Soros, and others were planning a coup while simultaneously being involved in an international child sex trafficking ring. QAnon further believes that the Robert Mueller investigation was a countercoup led by Trump. Trump was, according to QAnon, pretending to collude with Russia in order to hire Mueller to secretly investigate the Democrats (washingtonpost.com, Stanley-Becker, 8/01/18, dailydot.com, Rothschild, M., 3/19/18, Kiraly, A., 8/07/18, Sommer,W., thedailybeast.com, 7/07/18). QAnon also posts its conspiracy drivel on 8chan, called by CBC News (Canadian Broadcast News) an alt-right forum. Before Demagogue Donald tweeted an image of Hillary with a background of money and a six-pointed star, seen by many as resembling the Jewish Star of David, alt-right 8chan had used this very same anti-Semitic image (Smith, A., 7/03/16, “Mic,” BBC News, Wendling, M., 8/26/16, Kwong, M., CBC News, 8/26/16). QAnon also believes that John F. Kennedy Jr., who died in a 1999 plane crash, is “secretly alive (thedailybeast.com, Sommer, W. 4/10/19, shareblue.com, Willis, 4/12/19).”
QAnon’s conspiracy theories have been pushed and popularized mainly by Demagogue Donald’s most far-out supporters. QAnon has been described as “baseless,” “unhinged,” and “evidence-free (Culp-Ressler, T., thinkprogress.com, 3/31/18).” Controversial actress and Trump supporter Roseanne Barr has promoted QAnon conspiracy theory (See“The Hill,” Bowden, T., 3/31/18). On 1/09/2018, Trump ally and FOX News commentator Sean Hannity shared QAnon-related material on his Twitter account (Gander, K., ibtimes.co., 1/15/18). QAnon supporters began appearing at Trump rallies in the summer of 2018 (nytimes.com, 8/01/18). At a 3/2019 Trump MI rally, people held up QAnon signs and chanted QAnon slogans (thedailybeast.com, Sommer, 4/10/19). On 6/15/2018, Henderson, NV resident, Matthew Wright was arrested on terrorism and other charges for driving an armored vehicle with an AR-15 and handgun in it to the Hoover Dam. He blocked traffic for 90 minutes. He stated he was on “a mission from QAnon.” He wanted the release of a Justice Department report dealing with how FBI agents handled the investigation into Hillary’s use of a private email server. The report had already been released (Bank, Stack, & Victor, nytimes.com, 8/01/18). And how does Donald stand on QAnon? On 8/24/2018, our “Demagogue-in-Chief” hosted William “Lionel” Lebron, a leading QAnon conspiracy promoter in the Oval Office for a photo op (Wise, J., thehill.com, 8/24/18).
With all these endorsements from “Trump and Friends,” we should not at all be surprised that there is a fellow running for Congress in 2020 who is a fervent QAnon believer. Meet Matthew Lusk. So far, Lusk is running unopposed for the GOP nomination in FL’s 5th Congressional District (CD). Lusk told the “Daily Beast” that the online posts that have made up QAnon since 10/2017 are a “legitimate something.” Macclenny, FL resident Lusk stated that he treats posts from “Q,” the person or group, as a “very articulate screening of past events, a very articulate screening of present conditions, and a somewhat prophetic divination of where the political and geopolitical ball will be bouncing next.” Lusk even lists “Q” as one of the issues on his campaign website, alongside the elimination of alimony and the federal decriminalization of cocaine. His website has a long discussion about the nature of QAnon (dailybeast.com, Sommer, W., 4/10/19). Let’s look at this race.
After much litigation, the FL Supreme Court approved a redrawn version of the 5th CD that went into effect for the 2016 election. The current 5th CD extends along FL’s northern boundary including most of the areas between Jacksonville and Tallahassee. Most of Tallahassee, Fl’s capital, is in the 5th and that city and its suburbs make up 32% of the district. Downtown Jacksonville and its suburban area accounted for 61% of the 5th’s population. The present 5th contains all of Baker, Gadsden, Hamilton, and Madison Counties. It has portions of Columbia, Duval, Jefferson, and Leon Counties. It is a minority-majority district. Democrats have a 61.1% registration advantage over the GOP’s 23.0% (“Politico,” Caputo, M., 12/15/15, docs.google.com/spreadsheets, Google Docs). The black share of registered Democrats is 66.1% (Dixon, M., 12/02/15, “Politico Florida,” 12/02/15). The current Cook PVI (Partisan Voting District) give the new 5th a D+12 score (4/07/17, cookpolitical.com). In 2016, Hillary clobbered Donald by a 26-point margin, 61%-35% (Pres. Election Results).
Second-term Democratic Congressman Al Lawson, Jr. is the 5th CD’s current representative. Midway, FL native Lawson earned a BA in political science from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) where he became a basketball star. After a brief stint as a professional basketball player for the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks, Lawson returned to Tallahassee where he became an assistant basketball coach at Florida State University. He helped take the Seminoles to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. Lawson also received a Master of Public Education (MPA) from Florida State University in 1973 and became an insurance company owner (CQ Roll Call, 3/22/17, Gangitano, A., CQ 116th Congress At Your Fingertips). After the 5th was redrawn for the 2016 election, Lawson challenged 12-term incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown. When Brown was indicted on federal corruption charges in 7/2016, Lawson defeated her in the 8/2016 Democratic primary and thrashed his GOP election opponent in 11/2016 with 64% of the vote. In 2018, Lawson handily won re-election clobbering his GOP rival by 33.6 percentage points, 66.8%-33.2% (shareblue.com, Willis, 4/12/19, Gardner & Moyer, WJXT, 8/30/16).
In the House, Lawson sits on the Agriculture and Financial Services Committees. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CQ 116th Cong. At Your Fingertips, cbc.house.gov/membership). He has voted almost always with his fellow Democrats (projects.propublica.org). In the 115th Cong., he voted with fellow Floridian Democrat and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz 92% of the time (projects.propublica.org). He has taken strong stands on gun control. After the Parkland, FL high school massacre, Cong. Lawson expressed his frustration with the lack of action on gun regulation and blamed the gun lobby for “the stranglehold” on such legislation. He supports restrictions on assault weapons. Cong. Lawson voted against allowing all states to recognize concealed carry permits issued in other states. That bill would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons in school zones (tampaby.com, Leary, 2/15/18, Kruzel, politifact.com, 12/07/17).
In this safe “Blue” district, Cong. Lawson can easily defeat GOP challengers. Winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to election. In the last election cycle, Lawson easily turned back a primary challenge from Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, by a 20% margin. However, Congressman Lawson has never been a strong fundraiser and there is talk that he might not run in 2020 (See Kos Morning Digest, 4/16/19). Whoever runs for “Team Blue” in the FL 5th in 2020, Lawson, Alvin Brown, or anyone else, must make sure that he or she does not ignore the likes of Matthew Lusk or any other QAnon Trump disciple. QAnon’s sick conspiracy talk, encouraged by Trump and Associates, must be thoroughly discredited everywhere, especially at the ballot box.