Politics

Laura Loomer, provocateur banned from social media, runs for Congress in Palm Beach

Roger Stone with Laura Loomer.
Roger Stone with Laura Loomer. Courtesy of Laura Loomer

The far-right agitator Laura Loomer, whose inflammatory rhetoric and guerrilla-style activism have led to her ouster from major social media platforms and multiple encounters with police, has filed to run for a Democratic-leaning Palm Beach congressional seat that includes President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Loomer, a 26-year-old blogger who has worked with the conspiracy website InfoWars and the controversial investigative outlet Project Veritas, is joining a packed field of Republican hopefuls seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel in Florida’s 21st district, which covers most of Palm Beach County.

She launched her 2020 bid on Friday, according to Florida Election Commission records. Her campaign website states she is a resident of the district. Her statement of candidacy filed with the FEC lists a post office box in Lake Worth as her campaign’s primary address.

“This is today’s Washington Republican Party, a full-blown white nationalist is running for Congress in Florida,” said a spokesperson with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a statement. “Republicans must condemn Loomer’s hate filled message or they own it.”

Loomer’s announcement received a lukewarm welcome by Palm Beach Republicans, many of whom see the race for District 21 as already saturated with more qualified candidates. Mitchell Schwartz, the campaign manager for Republican candidate Christian Acosta, said he hoped Loomer was entering the fray “for the right reasons.”

Loomer did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. A press release issued by her campaign, posted on Twitter by Politico reporter Marc Caputo, states that Karen Giorno, who led Trump’s 2016 campaign operations in Florida, will serve as the general consultant for Loomer’s campaign committee.

Loomer, who is known for ambushing politicians and other newsmakers in off-the-cuff interviews, has been banned from Facebook and Twitter for her incendiary commentary. She was banned from the ridesharing platforms Uber and Lyft in 2017 after unleashing an anti-Muslim tweetstorm following a terror attack in Manhattan that killed 8 people and injured 11.

“Someone needs to create a non-Islamic form of @uber or @lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver,” wrote Loomer in a now-inaccessible tweet, according to CNBC.

She has been the subject of national news stories for reportedly jumping a fence at Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi’s home in California to stage an immigration protest and handcuffing herself to the front door of Twitter’s New York headquarters to call attention to her ban from the social media site.

Loomer has also ginned up controversy in Florida, targeting liberal lawmakers and activists — and sometimes diversity itself.

She considers South Florida resident Roger Stone, whose Fort Lauderdale home was raided by the FBI in January, as a mentor of hers. Stone, the longtime adviser to President Trump, was indicted on charges stemming from the Special Counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

After the Florida International University bridge collapse in March 2018, she and conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos posed for photos near the site of the wreckage and wore shirts that said, “Diversity Costs Lives.”

In a blog post about the photo shoot, Yiannopoulos wrote that the collapse of the bridge was a “feminist failure” and referenced an online conspiracy theory that the construction and design firms involved in the doomed bridge project were exclusively women. Six people died in the collapse.

Following the 2018 Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Loomer referred to one of the student activists at the school, David Hogg, as an “entitled spoiled brat.” She accused CNN of feeding pro-gun-control lines to Hogg and his classmates, who appeared on TV repeatedly in the aftermath of the shooting. Seventeen people died in the shooting, including 13 of Hogg’s classmates.

She also confronted Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, whose district includes Parkland, following a town hall event related to the shooting, stating that Deutch needed to be “investigated.”

She then appeared at the Broward County Supervisor of Election’s Office during the 2018 statewide recount, questioning then-Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes about her handling of her county’s ballots in three statewide races, including for governor.

Loomer, who is Jewish, said in a video posted to YouTube last October that she was removed from a campaign event for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum at a synagogue in Plantation. She likened her treatment to that of Jews in Nazi Germany.

“What’s to say he’s not going to shut synagogues down?” she said outside the Temple Kol Ami Emanu-el Day School. “What’s to say he’s not going to, you know, join arms with CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] and these jihadists like Linda Sarsour ... and wage full-blown Jihad against Jews and Christians?”

Frankel, who was first elected in 2012, won re-election for her fourth term in 2018 after running unopposed.

“Laura Loomer is an intelligent, vibrant woman, who will bring a very different kind of politics and approach to the district and it’s up to the voters to determine if that approach matches their own persona and how they want to be represented on issue,” Schwartz said. “Laura is well aware that there are other districts that would match her personality better than this district.”

A total of five Republicans are running for Frankel’s seat, but the incumbent holds a staggering fundraising lead and faces no Democratic challengers as of yet.

Frankel reported having more than $1.1 million in cash on hand in the latest FEC reporting period. The candidate with the second highest cash-on-hand figure, Victor Da Rosa, reported $3,420. Loomer has yet to report campaign contributions, according to FEC records.

“The reason for the crowded field is a dissatisfaction from the constituents that are being represented by Lois Frankel,” Schwartz said.

Annie Marie Delgado, president of Trump Team 2020 Florida, a statewide grassroots organization supporting Trump’s re-election, said Frankel was vulnerable.

“Based on what the Democrats are running on — and Lois Frankel being the face of socialism — in this particular district, she is vulnerable,” Delgado said. “It’s already a crowded field and it seems like there are others that are more qualified.”

But Cole Leiter, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Frankel would handily defeat Loomer in an election.

“Folks, Laura Loomer just created a committee to run for Congress in #FL21. @LoisFrankel is going to punt her into the STRATOSPHERE (and I for one am here for it),” he wrote on Twitter.

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