Arizona Blue Dog-- former Republican-- Tom O'Halleran is one of the worst Democrats in the House. He deserves to lose his seat-- and he probably will. His current seat, the massive first district has a slight Republican lean-- R+2 (Trump beat Hillary by a point in 2016 but ws beaten by Biden by nearly 2 points in 2020). But the redistricting process was bad for O'Halleran. The new PVI is R+15, making it impossible for him to be reelected, even in a good Democratic year, which this is certainly not. So which Republican will be representing the district?
Let's start by looking at the fundraising. As of December 30, O'Halleran had raised $1,578,954. And these are the 5 Republicans who have reported to the FEC:
Eli Crane- $810,385
State Rep. Walt Blackman- $687,131
Andy Yates- $104,887 (entirely self-funded)
Mayor John Moore- $54,054 (mostly self-funded)
Ron Watkins- $32,942
Watkins hasn't raised enough money to get a campaign going but he may well be O'Halleran's biggest nightmare. Did you read the NY Times forensic report by David Kirkpatrick today on QAnon? Turns out, despite all the denials-- to this day-- Watkins was indeed Señor QAnon, ever since stealing the "organization" from Paul Furber, the one who originally got the ball rolling a year earlier ("Open your eyes. Many in our govt worship Satan") in 2018. "As the stream of messages, most signed only 'Q,' grew into a sprawling conspiracy theory," wrote Kirkpatrick, "the mystery surrounding their authorship became a central fascination for its followers-- who was the anonymous Q? Now two teams of forensic linguists say their analysis of the Q texts shows that Furber, one of the first online commentators to call attention to the earliest messages, actually played the lead role in writing them."
Sleuths hunting for the writer behind Q have increasingly overlooked Furber and focused their speculation on another QAnon booster: Ron Watkins, who operated a website where the Q messages began appearing in 2018 and is now running for Congress in Arizona. And the scientists say they found evidence to back up those suspicions as well. Watkins appears to have taken over from Furber at the beginning of 2018. Both deny writing as Q.
The studies provide the first empirical evidence of who invented the toxic QAnon myth, and the scientists who conducted the studies said they hoped that unmasking the creators might weaken its hold over QAnon followers. Some polls indicate that millions of people still believe that Q is a top military insider whose messages have revealed that former President Trump will save the world from a cabal of “deep state” Democratic pedophiles. QAnon has been linked to scores of violent incidents, many of the attackers who stormed the Capitol last year were adherents, and the F.B.I. has labeled the movement a potential terrorist threat.
...Watkins, in a telephone interview, said, “I am not Q.”
But he also praised the posts. “There is probably more good stuff than bad,” he said, listing as examples “fighting for the safety of the country, and for the safety of the children of the country.” His campaign signs in the Republican primary refer to the online name he uses in QAnon circles, CodeMonkeyZ, and he acknowledged that much of the initial support for his campaign came from the movement. Relying mainly on small donors, Watkins, 34, trails the primary’s front-runners in fund-raising.
...[A]t the start of 2018... [t]he Q messages had recently jumped from an older message board to the one run by Ron Watkins and owned by his father, Jim-- the site known then as 8chan and now as 8kun. Jim Watkins, a former U.S. Army helicopter repairman who had settled in the Philippines, also owned pig and honey farms and dabbled in the online pornography business. Around the 2016 election, he had created a conspiracy-minded pro-Trump website, with his son overseeing the technical side.
The evident change in writing style at the start of 2018 coincided with an unusual exchange between the Q account and Ron Watkins. After a period of confusion, whoever was writing as Q publicly asked Watkins to confirm that the messages were still coming from the original Q. Watkins immediately did, and then Q declared all future posts would appear exclusively on Watkins’s platform.
Furber began complaining that Q had been “hijacked” and that Watkins was complicit.
From then on, the scientists said, the messages very closely matched the writing of Ron Watkins alone. “When QAnon started to be successful, one of them took control,” said Roten of OrphAnalytics.
In a podcast interview in 2020, Fredrick Brennan, who started the message board that the Watkinses now own, asserted without proof that Q was the invention of Mr. Furber. An HBO documentary released last year, Q: Into the Storm, built a case that Ron Watkins was behind the messages, and in it Mr. Watkins briefly seemed to admit that he had written as Q. He then smiled, laughed and resumed his denials.
Q has now gone silent, without posting a message since December 2020.
Furber, in an interview, said he believed that QAnon was “an operation that has run its course.” He said he was still convinced that it was orchestrated by a true insider “to awaken people to this massive secret war against the cabal,” and that “the next phase is coming.”
In an online memoir he posted about the QAnon movement, he writes wistfully about the early days before “the hijacking.” Q’s messages, he says, seemed to validate conspiracy theories he had subscribed to for years-- tying the Clintons and George Soros to the Rothschilds and the Illuminati.
“Like a child being taken around his father’s workshop for the first time,” Furber writes, “we were being given a behind-the-scenes look into the ugly and corrupt world of geopolitics.”
"Communist school boards are now indoctrinating our children." That was Watkins shouting a few weeks ago at an otherwise routine Scottsdale Unified School District board, not anywhere near the district her's running in. "Critical racist theory is teaching [children] to be racist against white people... I am running for Congress." Kept shouting and refused to sit down even after being informed that electioneering wasn't allowed at school board meetings.
The Phoenix New Times reported that although Watkins "has yet to prove himself as a serious candidate... Among fringe alt-right communities, Watkins is a celebrity. He’s relatively new, though, to Arizona and certainly to Scottsdale. He claims he has a Sedona address and weak (and so far unproven) family ties to the state, but most recently he has lived abroad, in Japan and the Philippines."
There are 3 current QAnon members of Congress, Marjorie Traitor Greene (R-GA), Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Mary Miller (R-IL). Watkins would fit right in with them.