Today, Ohio primary voters cast their ballots in the first statewide elections since the 2020 general election. In a contest news outlets have described as a test for Trumpism in the Republican Party, a crowded primary pool of pro-Trump candidates vie for endorsements and donations. Statewide midterm election coverage has been dominated by Peter Thiel-backed candidate J.D. Vance and election conspiracy theorist Josh Mandel, but two fringe QAnon conspiracy theory promoters have also managed to field competitive campaigns.
These two candidates, J.R. Majewski for Ohio’s 9th Congressional District and Mark Pukita for U.S. Senate, represent just two of the over 60 QAnon candidates Media Matters has tracked running for congressional office in 2022. Majewski has raised more than $200,000, largely from individual contributors, while Pukita's roughly $500,000 campaign operation has predominantly been funded through loans by the candidate himself.
Here’s what you need to know about each candidate's links to QAnon.
Majewski is a QAnon conspiracy theorist who initially gained national attention after painting his entire yard to look like a Trump reelection banner in the summer of 2020. Shortly thereafter, then-President Donald Trump praised Majewski, and Fox News interviewed him about his yard while he was wearing a QAnon shirt.
Majewski has posted QAnon hashtags on Instagram, and notably been associated with and appeared multiple times on QAnon show RedPill78, including when he and host Zak Paine discussed participating together in part of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Majewski posted a photo of himself amid the mob that stormed the Capitol that day, specifically highlighting QAnon promoters RedPill78 and M2Madness as his only trusted sources of information. He also admitted to breaching police barricades.
Majewski has since denied supporting QAnon, telling Toledo’s The Blade newspaper, “I’ve never read any QAnon drop — what they call the ‘Q drop,’ what they post on the website.” Though he added, “You’ll see me on the podcast with a guy that believes in QAnon,” referring to Paine.
Majewski has been endorsed by Donald Trump, as well as far-right political operator Roger Stone, and conspiratorial QAnon-supporting Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers, in addition to influential QAnon figure and ex-national security advisor Michael Flynn.
Mark Pukita is a Republican candidate running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Ohio. He has more than once tweeted the QAnon slogan and criticized the “MSM, Democrats & Dem Operatives” for “putting a full-court-press on disparaging & quashing the QAnon movement.” This post included an image with text saying “You’re over the target,” a phrase often used among QAnon supporters. Pukita has also previously appeared on the QAnon show RedPill78.
Pukita has since told Newsweek that he denounces the conspiracy theory, saying QAnon is “a fictitious construct that was made public and got out of hand” and that “Q is a mental construct for someone hoping there are good people in our intelligence community.”
Pukita is currently polling below the top four senate candidates in the crowded Republican primary for the open Senate seat.