Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.

  • QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that purports without proof that posts by an anonymous internet user from within the federal government are alluding to a secret war that the "deep state" is waging against President Trump.

Driving the news: At least two candidates were positioned to win seats in November.

Lauren Boebert, a first-time candidate, gun-rights activist and QAnon supporter, defeated five-term Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado's June 30 Republican primary for the 3rd congressional district. Trump had endorsed Tipton.

  • Boebert said in May she hopes QAnon "is real because it only means America is getting stronger and better and people are returning to conservative values," which she supports.
  • In a statement, the National Republican Congressional Committee said that the district "is a Republican seat and will remain a Republican seat."
  • Boebert told Axios she does not follow QAnon but is "glad the IG and the AG are investigating deep state activities that undermine the President."

Marjorie Taylor Greene emerged from last month's primary as the frontrunner heading into an August runoff for the Republican nomination for Georgia's 14th Congressional District, which is rated solidly Republican. She called Q a "patriot" in a 30-minute video in which she also professes the theory.

  • As Politico reported, House Republican leaders distanced themselves from Greene, who also has made Islamophobic, racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
  • After her rhetoric came under greater scrutiny, establishment Republicans have pushed to shift support to her runoff opponent, John Cowan, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Several other Republican congressional candidates with QAnon ties are running in solidly Democratic districts. Six of them bested competitors in contested primaries.

  • Angela Stanton-King, Georgia, 5th congressional district: On Instagram, Stanton-King posted a 12-minute video from a well-known QAnon promoter, who states "those who are corrupting our world" will be "permanently eradicated from the Earth." Her primary was uncontested.
    • She received a pardon from President Trump on Feb. 18, for her 2004 conviction on federal conspiracy charges involving an auto theft ring, the AJC reports.
  • Mike Cargile, California, 35th congressional district: Cargile's Twitter bio includes the "#WWG1WGA" hashtag, which stands for the QAnon motto “Where We Go One We Go All.” Cargile finished second in California's "top two" primary system to Democratic incumbent Rep. Norma Torres, whom he will face in November. He told Axios: "Only a fool would look at the Washington landscape and conclude that the President has no enemies inside the beltway."
  • Erin Cruz, California, 36th congressional district: Cruz told NBC News in 2019 that people who believe in the theory have "legitimate concerns." She finished second in the primary and will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Raul Ruiz.
  • Alison Hayden, California, 15th congressional district: Hayden has promoted the theory on her campaign Twitter account and has repeatedly tweeted the QAnon-connected hashtag “#GreatAwakening.” She defeated five other candidates and finished second in the primary for the right to face incumbent Rep. Eric Swalwell.
  • Johnny Teague, Texas, 9th congressional district: On a campaign account which has since been deleted, Teague retweeted a video of QAnon supporters reciting an oath associated with the conspiracy theory, according to Media Matters. He defeated two other candidates for the nomination.
  • Rob Weber, Ohio, 9th congressional district: Weber tweeted congratulations to a Twitter user for being "17’d," a reference to the 17th letter of the alphabet, Q. He defeated three other candidates for the nomination.
  • Philanise White, Illinois, 1st congressional district: White has tweeted the #WWG1WGA hashtag on multiple occasions. She ran uncontested for the nomination.
  • Theresa Raborn, Illinois, 2nd congressional district: Raborn retweeted a video of former national security adviser Michael Flynn reciting an oath associated with the conspiracy theory, adding the #WWG1WGA hashtag. She ran unopposed for the nomination.
  • Billy Prempeh, New Jersey, 9th congressional district: Prempeh uploaded a photo of himself posing with a “Q” flag on his campaign Facebook page, adding the motto "Where We Go One We Go All.” He beat one other candidate for the nomination.
  • Jo Rae Perkins, Oregon: The Republican U.S. Senate nominee recited the oath in a video posted on her campaign Twitter account. She beat three other candidates for the nomination. She told Axios that she believes QAnon is a news source that she uses for "connecting the dots" and "getting information that the mainstream media, generally, does not post."

Of note: Buzz Patterson, who finished second in the primary for California's 7th congressional district and will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Ami Bera, tweeted "Yep!" in response to whether he supports the Q movement.

  • Patterson told Axios that he does not recall sending the tweet about the theory and does not "follow or endorse anything he/she/them say."

Axios contacted each campaign and only received responses from Boebert, Cargile, Patterson and Perkins.

Between the lines: Trump has retweeted QAnon Twitter accounts on multiple occasions, while his son Eric Trump has promoted the theory in Instagram posts, Forbes reports.

  • A number of independent or write-in candidates who have supported the conspiracy theory will also appear on ballots in November.

Go deeper ... The science of conspiracies: Where Flat Earth meets Pizzagate

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that California has a "top two" primary system and that several of the Republican candidates finished second.

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Aug 5, 2020 - Podcasts

The conspiracy theory virus

Conspiracy theories can easily spread and grow online. One such example is QAnon, once a far-right fringe conspiracy theory that pushes the idea that the "deep state" is trying to take down President Trump — but this theory has now moved away from the corners of the internet and into our political discourse.

Roger Marshall wins Republican Senate nomination in Kansas primary

Rep. Roger Marshall. Photo: Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Rep. Roger Marshall won the Kansas Republican Senate primary on Tuesday evening, beating former Secretary of State Kris Kobach and a slew of other candidates, AP reports.

Why it matters: Following GOP Sen. Pat Roberts' retirement announcement, some Republicans worry that if Kobach won the primary it would endanger the party's chances of keeping the seat and maintaining a majority in the Senate.

Exclusive: How the high-tech economy is expanding

Data: Information Technology Industry Council; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The technology sector increasingly underpins the U.S. economy, with signs of its growth becoming more woven into local economies far outside iconic innovation hubs like Silicon Valley and New York.

Why it matters: A new district-by-district report out today from the Information Technology Industry Council makes the case that an economy infused with high-tech workers, startups and exports is a more resilient one, with higher wages and productivity.

What's new: Drilling into the data by congressional district yields some surprising findings:

  • The average congressional district now has about 400 high-tech startups employing around 3,400 workers.
  • Texas and Florida are home to four times the number of high-tech startups as the average U.S. state.
  • In Alabama, startups make up 16% of high-tech employment — the highest share in the country.
  • In Vermont, high-tech manufacturing exports make up 5.5% of the state economy — the largest share in the country.

"There is demand for skilled STEM workers, there is demand for public R&D funding, and even for high-tech startups in states across the country — not just in states we hear so much about," said ITI President and CEO Jason Oxman. "Companies are looking for opportunities to find good people in new geographies."

Yes, but: Despite shoots of green sprouting up across the country, many districts are still struggling to find a solid foothold. And there's concern that the COVID-19 pandemic will stunt some areas' tech-related growth even more.

  • For example, the Heartland region lags far behind coastal markets when it comes to attracting entrepreneurs and startups, according to a May report from Heartland Forward.
  • This is where skilled workers are key: "Knowledge-intensive young firms have a higher probability of achieving middle-market status where they can generate rapid job gains for their communities," per Heartland Forward.

The ITI data shows a strong correlation at the district level between employment in computer and math occupations and employment in science and engineering occupations — indicating that a density of high-skilled labor makes a region more attractive for skilled workers in other sectors.

  • This can impact wages.
  • In the median congressional district, average annual wages for high-tech workers in the median state were nearly $79,000. That's more than double the median U.S. personal income, which is around $31,000 annually.

There's a clear correlation at the congressional district level between the prevalence of high-tech and STEM workers and federal R&D funding, ITI's data analysis found.

The catch: The decades-long slide in public R&D funding has accelerated since 2009, according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, which analyzed the numbers last year.

  • As of last summer, the federal government invests about $125 billion per year in R&D on everything from agriculture to manufacturing to energy. But that investment as a share of overall U.S. GDP has continued to decline. Meanwhile, countries including China have increased this spending.

By the numbers: In the last two fiscal years, 250 out of 435 congressional districts got at least $50 million in federal R&D funding.

  • 14 states did not get any public R&D funding.

The bottom line: The tech economy isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition, and regions should build on their strengths.

  • Smaller markets have managed to capture pieces of the innovation infrastructure needed to drive high-tech ecosystems, but many have a long way to go.
  • "It is really important for states and congressional districts to focus on what they're good at and not try to be the next San Francisco," Oxman said.