When Ilhan Omar won Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District in the 2018 midterms by 56 points, she entered the House with a battery of firsts, becoming the first Somali-American, the first naturalized citizen from Africa, the first nonwhite woman from Minnesota, and, along with Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim woman to serve in Congress. In 2020, Omar will reportedly be challenged by one of the first QAnon candidates running for federal office, Danielle Stella.
According to her website, Stella, a “special education needs professional,” did not “hold prior aspirations to run for political office,” but was inspired to challenge Omar because of the “lack of honorable representation for Minnesota’s fifth congressional district,” which includes Minneapolis and some of its suburbs. According to a report from Right Wing Watch, Stella has expressed support for the far-right and increasingly crowd-sourced QAnon conspiracy.
The Republican candidate has used the hashtag #WWG1WGA — “where we go one we go all” — popularized by QAnon followers, interacts with QAnon supporters online and recently posted a picture of herself wearing a Q necklace. More definitive evidence came when Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt emailed Stella’s campaign website and was “answered by someone calling themselves Heather, who said she was an unpaid communications volunteer on Stella’s campaign who was forwarded our inquiry. Heather told us via email that she wanted to make clear that Stella ‘stands 100% behind the principles of patriotism, unity/inclusiveness (WWG1WGA!) and love for country that Qanon promotes.’” But like any conspiracy worth its enigmatic merit, the evidence for Stella’s endorsement isn’t definitive: According to a former campaign staffer who spoke with the Daily Beast, Stella “tries to portray herself as [if] she supports it, but she doesn’t even understand it” and that she wears the Q necklace “to get attention.”
For those healthy enough to spend enough time offline so as not to know what QAnon is, New York’s Max Read recently delivered a primer on the conspiracy — spooled out in 4chan posts by the anonymous user Q — which is condensed here:
In its broadest strokes, QAnon claims that a group within the federal government has been conducting a secret investigation into a network of elite pedophiles. On the Fourth of July, or maybe on the fifth — depending on which version of the theory you subscribe to — with the nation watching, John F. Kennedy Jr., who faked his own death 20 years ago this month, would reveal himself, and then, as QAnon interpreter Will Sommer puts it, “team up with Trump and ship a huge number of top Democrats off to Guantanamo Bay” for their participation in these global child-sex rings. In the world of QAnon, Donald Trump is a crusading savior, the face of a deep-state conspiracy to expose the moral depravity of the global elite and bring a cabal of child molesters to justice.
Stella, if she maintains her endorsement of the conspiracy, joins Matthew Lusk of Florida as the second congressional candidate to support QAnon. Lusk, who is running against Democrat Al Lawson in the state’s Fifth Congressional District in the panhandle, believes the conspiracy to be a “legitimate something” and told the Daily Beast that he considers Q’s cryptic posts to be a news source similar to CNN or Fox News.