Dave Armstrong, Republican candidate for the 75th Assembly District is one of several local politicians across the country who has used their social media channels to spread baseless and dangerous QAnon conspiracies that have fueled several acts of violence. Likewise, Eric Beach, the Republican candidate for the 57th Assembly District, posted numerous disturbing comments on his Twitter account, including calling President Obama a “terrorist” and pushing unfounded theories about government involvement in child-kidnapping.
The dangerous actions by Armstrong and Beach, amongst others, have helped fuel the rise of QAnon in Wisconsin, as far-right activists in the state have hosted rallies and used their own social media channels to further spread their conspiracies that have no basis in reality.
In response, Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Jake Andrejat released the following statement regarding the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s embrace of far-right conspiracy theories:
“Wisconsinites and our values are better than the radical fringe conspiracy theories that Wisconsin Republicans have been pushing. We have seen the human cost that hate and bigotry have had on our state and across this country, and it is clear we need Wisconsin’s leaders, regardless of party, to stand united against division in any form. While it is abhorrent that Wisconsin Republicans would support such detestable and unsubstantiated views, we have come to expect no better from them.”
- Candidates engaging with the QAnon conspiracy theory are running for seats in state legislatures this year, breathing more oxygen into a once-obscure conspiracy movement that has grown in prominence since adherents won Republican congressional primaries this year.
- Some of the legislative candidates have repeatedly shared QAnon memes and interacted extensively with social media accounts promoting the conspiracy — which is centered on the baseless belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring.
- Among those who have engaged with QAnon postings on social media is Dave Armstrong, a Republican candidate for the Wisconsin Assembly. He was asked to run for the seat by the incumbent, a fellow Republican.
- While he does not describe himself as a QAnon adherent, he has liked and forwarded videos made by QAnon backers. Armstrong told The Associated Press that he finds core aspects of the conspiracy credible, but not all of it.
- “I don’t know if we’ll ever know the answer to that, nor can we prove it,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing with QAnon is you can’t prove any of it.”
- John Ellenson, Armstrong’s Democratic opponent for the seat, said it would be “dangerous” to elect Armstrong because he “plays in conspiracies and not the truth.”
- Eric Beach, the Republican candidate for the 57th Assembly District and a former candidate for Appleton mayor, has come under fire for comments on his Twitter account.
- In a Nov. 26, 2019, tweet, Beach said, “Our media is so broken. 2000 plus kids are stolen daily, not a peep. One black guy has a problem with one white guy at Popeyes and it’s coverd (sic) for days. Christians are slaughtered, and they cover stuff like sex crimes priests commit but cover up the crimes politicians commit!”
- Beach, reached by telephone Friday, seemed caught off guard by questions about the tweets.
- “I wrote that?” he asked about a tweet concerning Obama. “I think I would have to see that.”
- When provided the dates, Beach didn’t deny writing the tweets or refute or regret what was said. He said the tweets “captured some of my anger and frustration” with the Obama administration.
- Beach is running against Democrat Lee Snodgrass in the Nov. 3 election for the 57th Assembly District.
- Snodgrass was aware of Beach’s tweets. Given the racially tinged content, she said she was surprised that Beach didn’t delete his Twitter account before entering the Assembly race.
- “Unfortunately, I think that Eric Beach aligns with the top of the ticket in the Republican Party on many of these thoughts,” Snodgrass said. “I think he posts a lot of offensive things that are meant to create division and stir the base of hatred.”
- Snodgrass continued, “I think the last thing that we need right now is a down-ballot candidate in the state Assembly who embraces conspiracy theories, who stirs racial tension and who is frankly outright disrespectful to past and present elected leaders.”
- Beach also sent a Nov. 10, 2018, tweet to @BoredElonMusk, which identifies itself as “a futuristic hyper PARODY account.”
- “I want to tell you my invention, you will be impressed. please DM me,” Beach tweeted.
- “I guess I was hoping that that was the real Elon Musk,” Beach told The Post-Crescent. “I was hoping it was a way to have a conversation with him.”