Believers in the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory are fond of telling each other to “Trust the Plan”—to remain firm in the belief that Donald Trump and the mysterious forces behind QAnon will, at any moment, defeat the deep-state operatives and Pizzagate-style pedophiles that secretly run the world.
It’s a leap of faith that binds the community together. But one QAnon follower has grown impatient. Instead of trusting the plan, he’s running for Congress.
Matthew Lusk, a Florida bookseller who launched his House campaign for Florida’s 5th congressional district last month, appears to be the first QAnon follower to run for federal office. His candidacy was first reported by Florida Politics, a state politics blog. According to FEC registrations, he is currently the only Republican in the contest to run in the general election against, in all likelihood, Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL).
Lusk told The Daily Beast that he’s not a “brainwashed cult member.” Still, he thinks the online posts that have made up QAnon since October 2017 are a “legitimate something.” He said he treats posts from “Q,” the person or group of people behind QAnon, like a news source similar to CNN or Fox News.
Q, Lusk wrote, has “very articulate screening of past events, a very articulate screening of present conditions, and a somewhat prophetic divination of where the political and geopolitical ball will be bouncing next.”
Lusk, who lives in Macclenny, Florida, even lists “Q” as one of the issues on his campaign website, alongside the elimination of alimony and the federal decriminalization of cocaine.
“Who is……………………...Q,” the QAnon portion of his site reads in its entirety.
But Lusk also told The Daily Beast that he has lots of questions about Q’s identity. “Is Q Trump?” Lusk wrote in an email. And he said that if he were elected he likely wouldn’t use QAnon to guide his thinking as a representative, unless “criminal leaks or seditious activity” revealed in Q clues “warranted an investigation.”
Still, the fact that he’s even running for a seat in Congress is the latest sign of the roots that the Q conspiracy has taken in modern political culture.
QAnon is based on patently ridiculous claims—including the idea that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will soon face military tribunals and that John F. Kennedy Jr. is secretly alive. And yet, it has found a home within a segment of the pro-Trump conservative grassroots movement. Dozens of QAnon supporters showed up at a Trump rally in Michigan last month, holding QAnon signs and chanting QAnon slogans.
QAnon followers have also been blamed for several dangerous incidents. An armed man motivated by QAnon allegedly shut down a bridge near the Hoover Dam last year with an armored truck. Two QAnon believers have been accused of murder, including the suspected killer of a Mafia boss in March.
And yet, QAnon followers have had brushes with power. A major QAnon promoter posed with Trump for a White House photo last year, and the conspiracy theory has been promoted by both a state representative in South Carolina and a city councilmember in California.
Lusk, who has never run for office before, says he’s self-funding his campaign until he gets “a full understanding of the law.” So far, according to Federal Election Commission data, he’s put roughly $2,000 behind his candidacy.
Lusk told The Daily Beast that his belief in legalized prostitution is far more relevant to his campaign than his belief in QAnon. He declined to answer more questions about himself, including providing basic biographical details, saying he was busy with tax preparation. He doesn’t appear to have appeared in the news before the Florida Politics interview earlier this week.
QAnon isn’t the only outlandish idea on Lusk’s website. On the front page, he says he fears being “Arkancided”—a reference to conspiracy theories that the Clintons murdered their Arkansas associates.
Even if Lusk manages to win the GOP nomination, he’s still unlikely to win the seat in the general election. Lawson won his last two elections by more than 25-point margins in each race.