Oregon Republicans nominated Albany financial adviser Jo Rae Perkins Tuesday to challenge Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley in November. Her Election Day address to voters ignited a social-media firestorm.
In a video posted on Perkins’ Twitter account, she expresses support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits that a shadowy cabal of elites — often liberals — operates a global human trafficking ring, and engages in the ritualistic abuse and sacrifice of children. Many supporters claim President Donald Trump is carrying out a covert mission to break up the “deep state,” a term used to refer to the governmental portion of the “cabal,” and end the supposed trafficking ring.
“Where we go one, we go all,” Perkins says in the video, referencing a main slogan that has dominated internet forums associated with the conspiracy theory. “I stand with President Trump. I stand with ‘Q’ and the team.”
After her statements brought a wave of national attention, she appears to have retreated from her support and deleted the video from her Twitter account.
Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Perkins declined to discuss her connections with the QAnon theory. Her campaign later released a statement that said she “would never describe herself as a follower,” of QAnon.
“I was not endorsing Q/Anon, but rather stating that I appreciate the fact that there is still free speech in this country that allows for voices – including whistleblowers from both sides of the aisle – that may, or may not, bring to light issues Americans need to be aware of,” Perkins said in the written statement.
Perkins won the nomination by more than 55,000 votes, although she is unlikely to pose a significant threat to Merkley in the solidly blue state of Oregon.
A spokesman for the Oregon Republican Party declined to discuss Perkins’ views Wednesday and referred all questions to the Perkins campaign.
In her Election Day video, Perkins addresses the audience and holds up a sticker with the abbreviation “WWG1WGA,” which stands for “where we go one, we go all.” The abbreviation is accompanied by a small “#QANON” at the bottom of the oval shaped sticker.
A search of Perkins’ official Twitter account shows she has been tweeting about the QAnon conspiracy theory since January 2018. She has often used hashtags that reference the theory, as well as posting a graphic on several occasions which has the text “Seal Of Approval,” wrapped around a stylized “Q.” The most recent time she did so was May 3, when she welcomed a Twitter user into the “QArmy.”
Perkins also appears to have ties to leading figures in the QAnon conspiracy movement.
On its website, Disarm The Deep State, a conservative super Pac, describes Perkins as an “avid follower of Q theory.” Federal campaign finance records show the group’s treasurer is Jim Watkins, who owns the 8chan online message board where many QAnon discussions are held.
Perkins’ campaign finance records do not list any financial support from Disarm The Deep State or Watkins.
The conspiracy theory is named “QAnon” because the posts are signed with the letter “Q,” and new posts have continued periodically since 2017, most recently on 8chan. The conspiracy theory began to take shape in 2017 after anonymous posts, now referred to as “Q drops,” began showing up on 4chan, a forum often associated with white nationalism and neo-Nazi rhetoric.
In her statement Wednesday, Perkins said she appreciates the constitutional right of free speech, which allows voices to be heard.
“I do not believe everything from Q/Anon and would never describe myself as a follower, but I also do not believe in infringing upon any outlet’s right to discuss news or topics,” she said.
©2020 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)