The California Republican Party is endorsing at least four QAnon-supporting congressional candidates

An image of a QAnon supporter

The California Republican Party is currently backing at least four congressional candidates who have expressed support for QAnon -- part of a larger movement by Republicans across the nation to support the violence-linked conspiracy theory. 

QAnon is based on cryptic posts to online message boards from an anonymous user known as “Q" that have spread rampantly on social media and among fringe right-wing media. QAnon conspiracy theorists essentially believe that President Donald Trump is secretly working to take down the purported “deep state,” a supposed cabal of high-ranking officials who they claim are operating pedophile rings. 

Media Matters has documented that in 2020, there have been at least 68 current or former congressional candidates who have embraced QAnon. There have also been at least 12 current or former state legislative candidates who have embraced the conspiracy theory. 

The California Republican Party lists its endorsed candidates for this election cycle on its website, including Buzz Patterson (Congressional District 7), Nikka Piterman (Congressional District 13), Alison Hayden (Congressional District 15), and Erin Cruz (Congressional District 36). 

All four of those Republicans have supported the QAnon conspiracy theory: 

  • In April, a Twitter user asked Patterson: “Do you support the Q movement?” He replied, “Yep!” (Patterson later bizarrely claimed “that he does not recall sending the tweet about the theory and does not ‘follow or endorse anything he/she/them say.’”)  

  • Piterman has tweeted the QAnon hashtag and slogan, “Where we go one, we go all,” often abbreviated as “WWG1WGA,” though he misspelled the latter. 

  • Hayden has repeatedly tweeted QAnon hashtags and QAnon content. 

  • Cruz offered support for the QAnon conspiracy theory in an interview with NBC News, including saying that “she believes some of what Q posts is valid information.” 

The California GOP previously endorsed congressional candidate and QAnon supporter Mike Cargile, but quietly removed it shortly after Media Matters reported that he had used the n-word in an anti-Black Facebook rant. 

The California GOP added its endorsements of Hayden and Cruz to its website in recent weeks even after news reports about their pro-QAnon views. (Google’s cache of the party’s endorsement page “as it appeared on 28 Jul 2020 03:48:35 GMT,” or 11:48 p.m. EDT on July 27, did not show endorsements for the two.)

Media Matters asked the CAGOP for comment, including confirmation that the party is endorsing the four candidates and whether it had a comment on QAnon and those candidates' support for the conspiracy theory. A spokesperson responded by sending a link to the party's endorsements page, which includes the four QAnon-supporting candidates. 

The California Republican Party’s decision to endorse QAnon-supporting candidates is another instance of major Republican leaders and organizations lending credence to the conspiracy theory. Other examples include: 

  • President Donald Trump has frequently promoted QAnon Twitter accounts. 

  • Trump official Erin Perrine went on a QAnon program to recruit campaign volunteers. (The interview did not include a direct mention of QAnon.)  

  • Two Republican Party organizations in Florida and a GOP group in Georgia have used their Facebook pages to promote QAnon.  

  • Republicans are backing the Colorado congressional campaign of Lauren Boebert, who has expressed support for the conspiracy theory. (Boebert has attempted to distance herself from QAnon after criticism.) 

  • The Oregon Republican Party is supporting U.S. Senate candidate Jo Rae Perkins, who is an avowed backer of QAnon. 

Right-wing media have also been offering credence to QAnon in recent months.