QAnon ballot box
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Multiple people seeking to run state elections are connected to QAnon

Update (last updated 11/14/22): This article has been repeatedly updated with additional details, primary results, and additional candidates.

Update (2/14/22): This article has been updated with new criteria for a candidate’s inclusion in the list.

Multiple people who have affiliated with, appealed to, or supported the QAnon conspiracy theory and its followers at some level are trying to take charge of election administration in their states.

The QAnon conspiracy theory revolves around an anonymous account known as “Q,” who claimed to have an inside scoop showing former President Donald Trump had a secret plot that would take down his perceived enemies, the “deep state,” and a cabal of Democratic pedophiles. Some supporters of QAnon have been tied to violent incidents and participated in the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol, and government agencies have issued internal warnings over the false conspiracy theory.

QAnon supporters have also played a crucial role in spreading false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, which influenced people in Trump’s orbit and fueled the grievances that helped lead to the attempted insurrection. QAnon has influenced the Arizona “audit” pushing false voter fraud claims in an effort to overturn that state’s presidential election results.

Now, multiple people who are involved with, or aspiring to be involved with, administering statewide elections -- running to serve as secretaries of state or in equivalent offices -- have connections to the conspiracy theory. And that is in addition to the numerous 2022 congressional candidates who have expressed some level of support for the conspiracy theory.

Jim Marchant, one of those secretary of state candidates tied to the conspiracy theory, has claimed that he and other QAnon-connected figures were recruiting candidates for other secretary of state positions around the country as part of an effort to push false voter fraud claims. Some of the candidates he claims they recruited or tried to recruit had expressed support for QAnon.

Below is a list of people serving as, or trying to become, statewide officials in charge of election administration who previously endorsed or gave credence to the conspiracy theory, promoted QAnon content, have clear affiliations with QAnon figures, or were involved with an event centered on QAnon. They are organized by state in alphabetical order.

  • Arizona

  • Mark Finchem (lost general election)

    Mark Finchem was a Republican candidate and member of the Arizona House of Representatives who ran for Arizona secretary of state in 2022. He won the primary on August 2 and was defeated in the general election. Finchem has repeatedly posted QAnon content on Gab, including sharing a Q post. Finchem has also appeared on a QAnon show (whose host participated in part of the insurrection), where he pushed a QAnon-connected conspiracy theory about watermarked ballots. He has spoken of “people involved in a pedophile network in the distribution of children. ... And, unfortunately, there’s a whole lot of elected officials that are involved in that” -- tenets of the conspiracy theory. Finchem also attended a QAnon conference in Las Vegas that was organized by a QAnon influencer.

  • Mark Finchem QAnon post about the media

    From Mark Finchem's Gab account. 

  • California

  • Rachel Hamm (lost primary)

    Rachel Hamm was a Republican candidate who ran for California secretary of state in 2022. She was defeated in the primary on June 7. During a conversation with a QAnon supporter, Hamm said, “I follow ‘c-u-e’ … constantly.” (“Cue” is what some QAnon supporters started calling the conspiracy theory to evade algorithmic detection on certain platforms.) She also said that the “coded language” of the Q posts “is actually how I think,” adding, “I frequently read it and feel like I know exactly what it’s saying,” and, “It just speaks my language. I love it.” She also said the Q posts “expose things that have been hidden,” adding that “I think Trump is also involved in” the conspiracy theory. During another conversation with the same QAnon supporter, Hamm said the conspiracy theory “was used to help a lot of people” and “if it did nothing else but that, it’s a good thing.” She has also appeared multiple times on the QAnon program The Charlie Ward Show, and she attended a QAnon conference in Las Vegas that was organized by a QAnon influencer.

  • Video file

    Citation From a video uploaded to Rumble on February 3, 2021

  • Colorado

  • Tina Peters (lost primary)

    Tina Peters was a Republican candidate who ran for Colorado secretary of state in 2022. She was defeated in the primary on June 28. While Peters has served as county clerk of Mesa County, Colorado, data from her office reached QAnon influencer Ron Watkins (though he claims indirectly), which triggered a criminal investigation into the breach. Watkins also attended a “cyber symposium” built around false voter fraud claims and hosted by businessman (and QAnon-connected figure) Mike Lindell to discuss the data he obtained from the breach. Peters attended the event as well. She has also been photographed with Jeffrey Pedersen, a QAnon influencer known online as “intheMatrixxx.” Another QAnon influencer, known online as Juan O. Savin, has also said he played a role in Peters’ decision to run for secretary of state and has said he has met with her and her campaign manager.

  • Massachusetts

  • Rayla Campbell (lost general election)

    Rayla Campbell was a Republican candidate who ran for Massachusetts secretary of state in 2022. She won the primary on September 6 by default, running unopposed, and was defeated in the general election. When she ran for Congress in 2020, her campaign Facebook page featured photos of her wearing a QAnon shirt.

  • Rayla Campbell QAnon Facebook
  • Michigan

  • Kristina Karamo (lost general election)

    Kristina Karamo was a Republican candidate who ran for Michigan secretary of state in 2022. She won the endorsement of the Michigan Republican Party at its nominating convention on April 23 and was formally nominated by the state party on August 27, putting her on the general election ballot. She was subsequently defeated in the general election. In 2021, Karamo attended a QAnon conference in Las Vegas that was organized by a QAnon influencer known online as “QAnon John.” Her campaign has said that Karamo “does not and never has supported QAnon” and falsely claimed that the conference “is not about QAnon.” Since then, she has apparently texted with QAnon John, thanking him after he praised her for “putting the Cabal on blast,” and QAnon influencer Juan O. Savin has said that he “had a very long call” with her.

  • QAnon John Kristina Karamo
  • Nevada

  • John Cardiff Gerhardt (lost primary)

    John Cardiff Gerhardt was a Republican candidate who ran for Nevada secretary of state in 2022. He was defeated in the primary on June 14. In his Twitter bio (the account has since been suspended), Gerhardt wrote that he is “PRO: Qanon.” Gerhardt 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 when running for Nevada’s state legislature in 2020, Gerhardt also wrote, “I stand with Q. I go 1 with all.”

  • John Cardiff Gerhardt QAnon Facebook profile picture
  • Jim Marchant (lost general election)

    Jim Marchant was a Republican candidate and former member of the Nevada State Assembly who ran for Nevada secretary of state in 2022. He won the primary on June 14 and was defeated in the general election. Marchant attended a QAnon conference in Las Vegas that was organized by a QAnon influencer. A spokesperson for Marchant told the Las Vegas Sun that the candidate “wasn’t aware of all the other speakers or attendees but is keeping his commitment to speak, as he speaks in front of as many Nevadans as possible.” Marchant reportedly backed out of attending the conference in August, saying he “just felt that it’s in my best interest not to.” After Marchant said he would no longer attend, the QAnon organizer behind the conference announced that he had an “awesome lunch” with Marchant and suggested they had discussed voter fraud claims. Following that meeting, Marchant was added back to the list of conference attendees, and he seemingly echoed a false claim among QAnon supporters that QAnon does not exist. Marchant also appears to follow QAnon accounts on Telegram and Gab.

    During the QAnon conference, Marchant claimed that he was working and associating with a QAnon influencer known online as Juan O. Savin -- along with QAnon-connected figures Mike Lindell and Patrick Byrne and The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft -- to recruit secretary of state candidates around the country to push false voter fraud claims and “take back our country” in 2022. Marchant mentioned Mark Finchem and Rachel Hamm as part of this recruitment effort. He also mentioned trying to recruit Pennsylvania’s Doug Mastriano, a QAnon-supporting state legislator, to run for governor in that state because in Pennsylvania the governor appoints the secretary of state. (Kristina Karamo at the conference also thanked Marchant for “putting the coalition together,” adding that she had been “asked to be a part of the coalition.” She went on to say, “We came here to Vegas and we sat in the room and we met and we talked, all of us on the coalition together.”)

  • Ohio

  • Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman (lost general election)

    Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman (known online as “Tore”) was an independent candidate who ran for Ohio secretary of state in 2022. She originally ran as a Republican, but the Ohio secretary of state’s office announced the list of eligible primary candidates, which Maras-Lindeman did not make. She later qualified for the general election ballot as an independent and was then disqualified for not having enough valid signatures, but that decision was reversed by the Ohio Supreme Court and she was put back on the general election ballot. She was defeated in the general election.

    A known QAnon influencer, she has displayed her QAnon support by including a flaming “Q” in her logo and invoking the QAnon slogan (“where we go one, we go all,” or “wwg1wga” for short), and her campaign logo includes a Q. Maras-Lindeman has also organized her followers to harass elected officials over false voter fraud claims, and she was cited as a witness before the Supreme Court by former Trump attorney Sidney Powell as part of efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. She is also close with former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, a major “Stop the Steal” figure who is heavily connected to QAnon; Byrne has said he relied on her and her followers to push false voter fraud claims and urged her to collaborate with him.

  • Tore QAnon logo