Ron Watkins, an Arizona Republican rumored to be the anonymous QAnon poster “Q,” lost his bid for a congressional seat Tuesday.
Watkins, who has strongly denied being the lead writer for the movement that spawned “Pizzagate,” came in seventh out of seven GOP candidates in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, earning barely 3,000 votes with just over 70% of precincts reporting Wednesday.
A self-described computer scientist in his 30s, Watkins ran an alt-right message board that hosted Q’s writings, leading some journalists and academics to conclude that Watkins may have been posting as Q. Watkins denied it during an April debate. “I was not Q, and I am not,” he said.
Ron Watkins, speaking with the media at a "Save America" rally in Florence, Arizona, denies being the writer behind QAnon. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC-BY-SA 2.0)
The conspiracies promoted by QAnon, including that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, have seeped into mainstream Republican politics.
“When the election was stolen, I was out there fighting tooth-and-nail to bring the information to the politicians,” Watkins said during the April debate, echoing support for the bogus idea that Trump lost due to widespread fraud, acceptance of which has become a litmus test for many Republican primaries.
Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), have both expressed support for the far-right conspiracy movement that alleges Donald Trump is fighting a secret war with “deep state” elites. Greene later said she regrets buying into some right-wing conspiracies, while Boebert said she was never a QAnon follower despite hoping the conspiracy was real.
Boebert and Greene notwithstanding, links to QAnon tend to be seen as a political liability, and a number of Republicans with overt ties to the movement haven’t been successful.
Watkins’ campaign was also plagued by weak fundraising, an awkward debate performance and his questionable connection to a district he said he grew up in but only returned to late in 2021 to run for office.
Watkins was competing in Democrat Tom O’Halleran’s Second Congressional District, which election forecasters say leans Republican in 2022. Eli Crane, a Trump-endorsed former Navy SEAL, was firmly leading the GOP field before the race was called.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.