QAnon influencers want their followers to infiltrate Republican precinct committees -- and the plan shows signs it’s working
Multiple influencers supporting or connected to the QAnon conspiracy theory have been urging their followers to sign up as Republican precinct committee members. Some have replied that they signed up or promised to try to do so.
Dan Schultz, a local GOP committee member and attorney from Arizona who, “since the Tea Party movement, has encouraged conservatives to run for low-level Republican office,” as noted by The Daily Beast, has in recent months been promoting a plan called the “precinct strategy.” The idea is for conservatives, particularly Trump supporters, to sign up as local Republican precinct committee officers -- who can elect people to higher-up positions in the party -- throughout the country, as many of these positions are vacant from lack of public awareness. And from there, they could also potentially gain influence over elected officials. (Schultz has also said that he used to be a contributor for the right-wing blog RedState, writing under the pseudonym “ColdWarrior.”)
In February, Schultz appeared on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s show War Room: Pandemic to promote his plan. Some users on far-right message boards took interest in the interview at the time, as did some QAnon supporters. Since then, the QAnon community’s interest in and connection to Schultz’s plan has grown.
Since his interview with Bannon, Schultz has appeared on multiple QAnon-connected shows to promote his precinct strategy. Days after his Bannon interview, Schultz appeared on the podcast Dark To Light, which is co-hosted by Tracy “Beanz” Diaz, one of the main initial figures to reportedly popularize QAnon. Diaz has since been elected to a position in the Horry County Republican Party in South Carolina and is reportedly collaborating on a site with QAnon promoter and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Before airing the recorded interview, Diaz hyped Schultz’s plan, calling it a strategy to “literally take over the Republican Party,” and said of Schultz, “I was waiting, I was wishing and hoping for the universe to deliver someone like him.”
The following month, Schultz appeared on The Common Sense Show, a show on the QAnon channel Patriots’ Soapbox. During the interview -- which aired on YouTube, where the show still has a channel despite the platform’s QAnon crackdown -- Schultz said to the audience, “Please become a precinct committeeman, that’s my message,” later adding that “if we don’t do it, we’re going to lose our republic” otherwise. Co-host Derik Vance, who told Schultz that he found out about him from his interview with Bannon, said that Schultz’s message had “been the message that we’ve been spreading” and “needs to be heard far and wide,” adding, “I do know of a few people, after showing them your site, the Precinct Project, that have actually have become precinct chairs.” Schultz also offered to help co-host Janet Wink become a precinct committee member.
In May, Schultz appeared on QAnon show RedPill78 -- whose host, Zak Paine, has admitted to participating in part of the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol -- to promote his precinct strategy. During the interview, Schultz told the audience to go his site and read his book to see his plan, which he claimed could help “save the republic” and “take back … the Republican Party,” and told the audience that they “better” follow his plan and “fill up all of the vacant precinct committeeman slots in this country and get organized and united” to stop “socialism.” Later he added, “You people listening to my voice, will you at least try this?”
Paine, who told Schultz that he found out about him from his interview with Bannon, said he “definitely agree[d]” with his plan; asked who else agreed that there’s a need for “action” in order to not “lose America”; and told his audience, “I want to see many of you going and doing this.” Paine also urged his audience members to start attending precinct committee meetings and show their desire to “help the party.”
During Schultz’s appearance on RedPill78, a video caller told the duo that because of Schultz’s interview on Dark To Light, she “immediately went and signed up and got appointed” as a precinct member, holding up what she suggested was a precinct committee handbook. Another video caller said she started the process to become a precinct captain due to Schultz’s interview with Bannon. And a third separate video caller said he just started trying to become a precinct officer during the interview.
The show also promoted Schultz’s appearance on its Telegram channel, linking to Schultz’s site and writing to followers that “it's imperative that you take part in the Precinct Strategy.” Some followers wrote in response that Schultz had “helped me get set up in [Arizona]” and inspired them to become a precinct member in Palm Beach County, Florida. The show promoted Schultz’s plan again in early June, with more users writing in response that they “signed up with my local precinct” or were “checking in my precinct tomorrow.”
Later that month, Schultz appeared on another QAnon show, Woke Societies, to promote his precinct plan. The interview aired on Periscope, a platform owned by Twitter, where Woke Societies continues to be active even though Twitter cracked down extensively on QAnon in January. During the conversation, Schultz called for people to “invade the Republican Party” and to “invade this party with our warm bodies and fill up all these vacant slots.” In turn, host Scott DeGroat said Schultz’s plan was “very important” and “aligned to what we have been talking about” regarding “tak[ing] the power back ourselves.” DeGroat also praised Schultz for giving his audience “actionable steps” to do so, calling it “great stuff” and saying that “this is how you get involved” and “take it over.” Additionally, DeGroat claimed viewers were saying “they’re going to get their butts in gear” in response to the interview.
Other QAnon influencers have promoted the precinct effort as well. In early June, David Hayes, who is known online as “Praying Medic” and who has called for a military coup in the U.S., posted on Telegram that Arizona had thousands of vacant precinct positions and suggested people sign up in both Arizona and Georgia, with users responding by promoting Schultz’s site, saying they had “taken the steps to be appointed” as a precinct committee member, and giving tips to help other followers become precinct committee members. Another QAnon influencer, “Major Patriot,” shared Hayes’ message about precinct slots, urging followers on Gab to “volunteer now and take over the GOP.” In response, users said they would try to sign up in their states or that they had “volunteered to be on the [precinct] ballot.” One of the responses was from a Republican nominee for a Virginia House of Delegates seat, who wrote that she was a district chair and who urged other followers of Major Patriot to email her because “I would love to have your help.”
This was also not the first time Hayes and Major Patriot pushed the precinct plan, having previously promoted Schultz’s idea directly and received similar responses. Major Patriot had also promoted the precinct plan in a Gab group dedicated to it, where Schultz himself also appears to participate. A Republican congressional candidate in the group wrote in response to Major Patriot, “Real Americans need to get involved and remove these spineless RINOS.”
Additionally, a Telegram channel affiliated with the far-right group Oath Enforcers, whose leader has tried appealing to QAnon supporters, has also promoted the plan. And QAnon-connected attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood have also shared it (the former directly from the Oath Enforcers post).
The QAnon community’s embrace of the precinct committee plan comes as some in far-right online communities, including QAnon supporters, have been openly encouraging and discussing plans to run for office or to fill positions related to elections. And it furthers the influence of QAnon shows, whose guests have included multiple political figures and anti-vax influencers.
Correction (8/4/21): This piece has been updated to correct a misspelling of the first name of a host of The Common Sense Show, Derik Vance.