Republican crackpot Laura Loomer ran a fascist-oriented primary campaign against hard right conservative Dan Webster in the very backward 11th congressional district. How backward? The district gave Trump a 65.4- 33.8% win over Biden, Trump’s biggest win outside of the Panhandle, which is really more Alabama than Florida. Loomer lost— but it was closer than anyone expected. In fact, in the most backward county in the district, Sumter, she beat Webster 50.2-45.4% and it was just the Orlando suburbs that saved Webster.
Loomer, a perennial candidate who is widely considered mentally deranged, has refused to concede and claims the primary was stolen from her and that “our Republican party is broken to its core… there was no denying that there was voter fraud and election interference in this campaign…[W]e are never going to have another free and fair election in this country ever again until we strongarm the Republican Party into addressing these issues. It breaks my heart that we are in a position in this country today where the Republican Party establishment is participating in the voter fraud machine. And I stand on the stage before you today with the American flag behind me to tell you that we do not live in a free country. We do not live in a country with free and fair elections.”
Friday, MSNBC columnist Dean Obeidallah celebrated Loomer’s latest breakdown into insanity: he call for her followers to vote against the Republican Party in November. Noting that she’s “as vile as they come,” he reported that “Loomer is encouraging her supporters not to vote for the GOP nominee in the general election, she may just be the Democrats’ best weapon to win an otherwise safe GOP seat. Here’s hoping she inspires other MAGA losers to follow her lead.”
For those lucky enough to not know who Loomer is, she’s a one-stop shop for bigotry. She has dubbed herself a “proud Islamophobe" and has backed it up with a slew of hate-filled comments about Muslims being “savages.” On a podcast hosted by a white nationalist, she declared, “I’m going to fight for white people” and added, “I’m a really big supporter of the Christian nationalist movement.” And this 29-year-old — who was gleefully endorsed by Donald Trump when she ran for Congress in 2020— has been banned by a number of platforms from Twitter to GoFundMe, for her hate speech and conspiracy theories. She can’t even catch an Uber or a Lyft.
Despite being as despicable as she is, in 2020 Loomer won the GOP nomination for Congress in Florida’s 21st Congressional District. Thankfully, Democrat Lois Frankel crushed her by 20 points in that solidly blue district.
But Loomer had a new plan for 2022. She ran in Florida’s 11th Congressional District, which is solidly Republican, to challenge 73-year-old Rep. Daniel Webster, who’s been in office since 2011. And she almost won. Webster only bested her by about 5,000 votes, Loomer shocking many by attracting 44% of the vote.
But Loomer— taking a page from her beloved former president— has refused to accept her loss. On election night she declared in Trumpian fashion, "I'm not conceding, because I'm a winner!" And as you may have guessed, she claimed there was voter fraud. Soon some of her followers online were repeating her fact-free fraud claims.
Loomer escalated her rhetoric Wednesday. On GETTR, one of few social media platforms that hasn’t kicked her off, she posted in all caps, “I DO NOT CONCEDE.”
She then made a request to her nearly 38,000 voters that should make Democratic nominee Shante Munns happy. “I encourage all of my supporters and all of my voters to NOT support Daniel Webster and the establishment RNC and Big Tech voter fraud machine that is propping his feeble body up and depriving my constituents of the representation they deserve and need,” Loomer wrote. She then added for bad measure: “I am calling for Daniel Webster to RESIGN, because everyone knows he is beyond unfit to serve.”
This is not an empty threat. While the newly reshaped 11th Congressional District is rated by nonpartisan Cook Political report a “solid” Republican district, Cook predicts it favors Republicans by 8 points. That is on the low end of solid GOP districts. Simple math tells us that, for Webster to win in November, he will need Republican primary voters who cast a ballot for Loomer.
According to the last fundraising reports before Tuesday’s election, Loomer had raised $763,009 to Webster’s $595,280, which means he likely spent a large chunk of that fending off her. (The final spending report for the primary has not been released.) If Loomer’s supporters don’t help Webster replenish his campaign funds for the final two months of the general election campaign, it helps Munns, who ran unopposed.
I’m rooting for the Loomer’s voters to do exactly what she is demanding: refuse to vote for Webster. Beyond that, the hope is other losing MAGA candidates will lash out against GOP nominees and Republican establishment. And no one is more likely to do that than Trump himself if he runs in 2024 but doesn’t win Republican nomination. Does anyone think Trump wouldn’t say the nomination was stolen from him, that he wouldn’t burn it all down before he lets another Republican win the presidency?
There was a time when many of us hoped that Republican leaders would excise the MAGA extremists from their party. Clearly that is never going to happen. As we can see from Loomer’s fundraising haul that eclipsed a veteran GOP member of Congress, a significant amount of energy in the Republican base is with the MAGA extremists.
At this point, our best hope is that an increasing number of MAGA bigots and conspiracy theorists help Democrats win by turning on the GOP establishment. Maybe then the GOP will rise up from the ashes and become a mainstream political party again and not a white nationalist, anti-democratic movement. But even if that doesn’t happen, a divided GOP is far easier for Democrats to defeat than a united one.
The Democrat running for the seat, Shante Munns, had no primary opponent, has one of the worst campaign websites I’ve ever seen, isn’t campaigning and hasn’t even raised the $5,000 that would require her to file an FEC report. Imagine if the moribund Florida Democratic Party had actually recruited a real candidate to run in the 11th.