Updates (last updated 11/23/20): This article has been repeatedly updated with more state legislative candidates and to note the status of the candidates following the primary and general elections.
Editor’s note (8/7/20 and 10/16/20): This article originally cited Ballotpedia in identifying a personal social media account for Brian Redmond. After we published his entry, Ballotpedia removed the link to the social media account mentioned here as belonging to Redmond. Evidence still suggested the account was likely his, and reporting from Mainer has since confirmed it is him.
Correction (11/23/20): This piece’s subheadline incorrectly said 7 candidates were elected; it was actually 4.
Multiple supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which got its start on far-right message boards, ran for state legislatures around the country in 2020. These candidates were in addition to dozens of congressional candidates who had also embraced the conspiracy theory.
The conspiracy theory, which revolves around an anonymous account known as “Q,” started on far-right message board site 4chan and later moved to fellow far-right message board site 8chan, which has since relaunched as 8kun. (Beyond the QAnon conspiracy theory, 8chan/8kun has been linked to multiple instances of white supremacist terrorism, including the 2019 massacre in El Paso, Texas.)
The “Q” account’s claim -- and the conspiracy theory’s premise -- is that President Donald Trump was working with then-special counsel Robert Mueller to take down the president’s perceived enemies, the “deep state,” and pedophiles. Multiple adherents to the conspiracy theory have been tied to acts of violence, including multiple murders and attempted kidnappings, and an FBI field office released a memo in May 2019 that listed QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat.
There were 23 known candidates who endorsed or gave credence to the conspiracy theory or promoted QAnon content. Among them:
- Three candidates, in Florida, Tennessee, and Connecticut, were incumbents. All of them were reelected. A candidate in Washington was also elected. All four are Republicans.
- Twenty-one candidates in total secured a spot on the general election ballot: three from Minnesota, two each from Arizona, Washington, New York, and Maine, and one each from Indiana, Tennessee, Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Florida.
- Nineteen candidates were Republicans, one was an independent, one was a member of New York’s Conservative Party, one was both a Republican and Conservative Party member, and one was a member of Hawaii’s Aloha Aina Party.
Below is the list of 2020 state legislative candidates who endorsed or gave credence to the conspiracy theory or promoted QAnon content, divided into sections for 1) candidates elected to state legislatures; 2) candidates who lost the general election; and 3) candidates who were no longer running before the general election.
Candidates elected to state legislatures
Eric Berthel (Connecticut)
Eric Berthel is an incumbent Republican member of the Connecticut State Senate who successfully ran for reelection in District 32. He had advanced after the Republican primary was canceled, according to Ballotpedia. Berthel had a sticker with the QAnon slogan on his car. He told Connecticut Public Radio that while he does not “believe in many of the wild eyed theories reportedly associated with the QAnon movement about pedophile conspiracies or satanic cults,” he does believe in “stopping corruption in politics, holding government accountable and protecting individual freedoms,” which “the movement has come to represent.” He added that QAnon “has allowed for people who have previously felt disconnected from public policy and government to be part of the conversation.” Berthel later released a statement saying his “failure to look into the movement more deeply, which I take full responsibility for, led me to overlook the extreme views of the movement which I don’t subscribe to and find abhorrent.”
Rob Chase (Washington)
Rob Chase was a Republican candidate who successfully ran for District 4 of the Washington House of Representatives. He had placed in the top two in the nonpartisan blanket primary on August 4, which meant under Washington election law, he appeared on the ballot in the general election. According to The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Chase -- who is also a former congressional candidate -- on Facebook has “repeatedly directed followers to check out QAnon posts or podcasts, writing in January that ‘Q is posting again. This will be a week to remember,’ and in April that ‘Q is all hopped up tonight.’” The outlet also reported that Chase has posted the QAnon slogan and wrote a blog post that described QAnon as part of a “‘battle that's been going on at least a few hundred years’ with ‘patriots’ like Trump trying to thwart ‘an ongoing plan by the Deep State to destroy America, because that is the only way they can establish a Global New World Order.’” Chase also told the outlet that he was “intrigued” by QAnon and “open to it,” though “he doesn't consider himself an outright QAnon supporter” despite his previous comments.
Susan Lynn (Tennessee)
Susan Lynn is an incumbent Republican member of the Tennessee House of Representatives who successfully ran for reelection in District 57. She had won the Republican primary by default on August 6. On her Facebook page, her cover photo is a QAnon flag. She has also repeatedly tweeted the QAnon slogan, and The Daily Dot reported that she has retweeted “a short video of a man taking an ‘oath of enlistment’ to be a ‘QAnon digital soldier.’”
Anthony Sabatini (Florida)
Anthony Sabatini is an incumbent Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives who successfully ran for reelection in District 32. He had advanced after the Republican primary was canceled, according to Ballotpedia. In May, he tweeted a link to a site that collects “Q” posts.
Candidates who contested the general election and lost
Dion Bergeron (Indiana)
Dion Bergeron was a Republican candidate who ran for District 9 of the Indiana House of Representatives. Bergeron, who is also a former congressional candidate, was selected by the Porter County Republican Party by caucus to run for the seat. During his congressional campaign in March, Bergeron accepted an endorsement from a QAnon super PAC, responding on Twitter, “I’m honored and humbled by your official approval.” He also wrote the QAnon hashtag and the QAnon slogan -- “#wwg1wga” (short for “where we go one, we go all”). On his congressional campaign Facebook page, he wrote, “My license plate says THANQ on the Indiana ‘In God We Trust' plate. On my side windows are stickers that proclaim Where We Go One, We Go All.”
Kevin Bushey (Maine)
Kevin Bushey was a Republican candidate who ran for District 151 of the Maine House of Representatives. He had won the Republican primary by default on July 14. As reported by researcher Marc-André Argentino and by The Daily Dot, Bushey is a member of a YouTube-based “QAnon church” called Omega Kingdom Ministries, where, as The Daily Dot described it, he “spends nearly an hour every Sunday morning deciphering QAnon drops, Twitter threads, memes, and updating viewers on ‘military operations.’” He has also repeatedly tweeted the QAnon slogan.
Citlalli Johanna Decker (Hawaii)
Citlalli Johanna Decker was an Aloha Aina Party candidate who ran for District 5 of the Hawaii House of Representatives. She had advanced from her party’s primary by default on August 8. Decker has repeatedly posted the QAnon slogan on Facebook (including writing it out fully), and has also posted it on Instagram. She has also run Instagram ads with the QAnon slogan, and her Facebook page “likes” a QAnon page.
Justin DeFillippo (New York)
Justin DeFillippo was a Conservative Party candidate who ran for District 23 of the New York State Senate. He had advanced after the Conservative Party primary was canceled , according to Ballotpedia. On July 23, DeFillippo wrote on Facebook, “Condemn the hate groups not the #Q.” He’s used the hashtag “#Q” multiple times, alongside the QAnon hashtag and a hashtag for the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory. He has also posted the QAnon slogan on Instagram. DeFillippo has additionally run a Facebook ad with “#Q” and the QAnon slogan.
John Cardiff Gerhardt (Nevada)
John Cardiff Gerhardt was an independent candidate who ran for District 12 of the Nevada State Assembly and who was on the ballot in November’s general election, according to Ballotpedia. In his Twitter account profile (which has since been suspended), Gerhardt wrote he is “PRO: Qanon.” He has posted the QAnon hashtag and QAnon slogan on Facebook, writing, “Once you learn the truth, there’s no going back to sleep.” In a Ballotpedia candidate survey he filled out, Gerhardt also wrote, “I stand with Q. I go 1 with all.”
Mark Gilham (California)
Mark Gilham was a Republican candidate who ran for District 22 of the California State Assembly. He had come in second in the nonpartisan blanket primary on March 3, which meant under California election law, he appeared on the ballot in November’s general election. Gilham’s campaign site had featured the QAnon slogan.
Gary Heyer (Minnesota)
Gary Heyer was a Republican candidate who ran for District 50B of the Minnesota House of Representatives. He had won the Republican primary by default. Heyer, who is also a former independent congressional candidate, previously called himself an “Independent #QPlan Candidate” in his Twitter profile. In a since-deleted tweet in December, he posted a video of himself apparently outside of a church and next to a sign with “Q” on it, saying he was “inviting all of the churchgoers to partake in the great awakening.” Heyer has also posted a QAnon coronavirus conspiracy theory video on Facebook.
Amber Krabach (Washington)
Amber Krabach was a Republican candidate who ran for District 45 of the Washington House of Representatives. She was the only listed Republican running in the district’s nonpartisan blanket primary on August 4, which meant under Washington election law, she appeared on the ballot in November’s general election. Krabach has repeatedly tweeted the QAnon hashtag and the QAnon slogan, including tweeting that she “follow[s] Q” and that “Q is confirmed.”
Melissa Moore (Minnesota)
Melissa Moore was a Republican candidate who ran for District 46B of the Minnesota House of Representatives. She had advanced after the Republican primary was canceled, according to Ballotpedia. On Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Moore has written the QAnon slogan along with other QAnon-related hashtags like “#GreatAwakening” and “#DoItQ.” She also told The Associated Press that she likes “following” QAnon and that “it’s an exciting movement that opens up our minds to different possibilities of what’s going on, of what’s really happening in our world today.”
Brian Redmond (Maine)
Brian Redmond was a Republican candidate who ran for District 148 of the Maine House of Representatives. He had won the Republican primary by default on July 14. On Redmond’s personal Twitter account (since suspended), the profile image had the text “Q’s Army” and the QAnon slogan. The account had also repeatedly tweeted the QAnon hashtag and the QAnon slogan. Redmond has since told Mainer that the conspiracy theory is “an opportunity to wrestle back control of our government from subvertists and treasonists.”
Suzanne Sharer (Arizona)
Suzanne Sharer was a Republican candidate who ran for District 18 of the Arizona State Senate. She had won the Republican primary on August 4, running unopposed. She has tweeted the QAnon hashtag and the QAnon slogan. On Facebook, she has posted a QAnon video while asking, “Have you heard of Q?”
Mark Szuszkiewicz (New York)
Mark Szuszkiewicz was a Republican and Conservative Party candidate who ran for District 46 of the New York State Assembly. He had advanced after the Conservative Party primary was canceled, according to Ballotpedia. Szuszkiewicz has repeatedly posted the QAnon slogan and other QAnon hashtags on Instagram, including hashtags pushing the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. He has also repeatedly tweeted QAnon hashtags.
Cynthia Taylor-Hollandbeck (New Hampshire)
Cynthia Taylor-Hollandbeck was a Republican candidate who ran for District Rockingham 28 of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. She had won the Republican primary by default on September 8. On Taylor-Hollandbeck’s personal Twitter account -- which her campaign Twitter account has identified as hers -- she has repeatedly tweeted the QAnon slogan and QAnon hashtag. She also posts on Gab, a social media platform favored by white nationalists, where she announced her campaign as an effort to “sav[e] my State from an out-of-control Governor” and “helping Trump get re-elected,” while “still supporting #Q” and “#QTeam.”
Joe Thalman (Minnesota)
Joe Thalman was a Republican candidate who ran for District 49B of the Minnesota House of Representatives. He advanced after the Republican primary was canceled, according to Ballotpedia. According to the Star Tribune, Thalman said the QAnon slogan out loud at a candidate forum, saying, “We’re seeking truth and justice and where we go one, we go all.”
Justine Wadsack (Arizona)
Justine Wadsack was a Republican candidate who ran for District 10 of the Arizona State Senate. She won the Republican primary on August 4, running unopposed. As The Daily Dot has reported, Wadsack -- who is also a former congressional candidate -- has tweeted and written out the QAnon slogan more than once. Despite that, Wadsack has since denied to the Phoenix New Times that she supports QAnon, saying that “everything about politics intrigues me, all sides.”
Candidates who were no longer in race before general election
Melissa Ackison (Ohio, lost primary)
Melissa Ackison was a Republican candidate who ran for District 26 of the Ohio State Senate. She was defeated in the primary on April 28. On Facebook, while linking to a video series that pushes the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, Ackison wrote, “For the hundreds of people sending messages asking me what QAnon is, here’s the video series.” In response, someone commented, “You have a BIG fan base with the Q underground Melissa...Q rocks!!!,” to which Ackison wrote, “I know,” along with flag and fist emojis.
Bobby Jeffries (Pennsylvania, dropped out of race)
Bobby Jeffries was a Republican candidate who ran for District 106 of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and dropped out before the primary, according to Ballotpedia. Jeffries, who was also a former congressional candidate, has repeatedly tweeted the QAnon slogan and in a since-deleted tweet wrote, “#QAnon for the win!”