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Loomer win creates bigger problem for House GOP

House Republicans have a growing conspiracy theorist problem.

Laura Loomer, well known for her offensive remarks about Muslims and her embrace of conspiracy theories, became the latest far-right activist to win a primary on Tuesday night, one week after Marjorie Taylor Greene's win in Georgia.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE has embraced both candidates, but some in the House GOP conference see them as threats if Republicans are to reverse 2018 defeats in the suburbs that plunged them into the minority.

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Multiple GOP lawmakers dismissed Loomer as a fringe candidate who's unlikely to win against a four-term Democratic incumbent, but acknowledged her victory on Tuesday in the district that includes Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club doesn’t help efforts to expand their base.

“It's not a serious seat, it's not a GOP seat. So you didn't really have a legitimate Republican candidate running for it,” Rep. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanGOP congressman condemns Trump-promoted theory that Bin Laden killing was a hoax Marjorie Taylor Greene spars with GOP lawmaker over QAnon, antifa Internal poll shows tight race in Virginia House race MORE (R-Va.), who lost a GOP primary earlier this summer to a far-right candidate, told The Hill. 

“The thing is, I've always said we need a big tent party. I just didn't think it would turn into a carnival tent,” Riggleman said.

Greene is on track to ultimately win election to represent a deep-red district in Georgia, while Loomer is a long shot to defeat Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Hillicon Valley: Democrats demand answers over Russian interference bulletin | Google Cloud wins defense contract for cancer research | Cyberattack disrupts virtual classes MORE (D-Fla.) in what’s long been a safe Democratic district.

Complicating matters for Republicans is Trump’s embrace of both, which makes it difficult to stiff-arm them.

“Great going Laura. You have a great chance against a Pelosi puppet!” Trump tweeted Tuesday night, referring to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate MORE (D-Calif.).

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Greene and Loomer have also received endorsements from a handful of GOP lawmakers closely allied with Trump. Greene was endorsed by House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMcCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats Republicans lash out at Twitter and Facebook over Hunter Biden article MORE (R-Ohio), while Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzCongressional antitrust report rips tech firms for stifling competition Loeffler tweets edited video showing Trump taking down coronavirus in wrestling match Why is Florida screaming about the pay-to-vote system it created? MORE (R-Fla.) and Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarHillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it Pelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership MORE (R-Ariz.) expressed support for Loomer.

Few rank-and-file GOP lawmakers have disavowed Greene or Loomer on the record. Those who did, like Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerFox News reporter defends confirming Atlantic piece despite Trump backlash: 'I feel very confident' GOP lawmaker defends Fox reporter after Trump calls for her firing Lindsey Graham: 'QAnon is bats--- crazy' MORE (R-Ill.), have drawn the wrath of Trump allies.

House GOP leaders, reluctant to break with Trump, have not given any sign that they would refuse to include Greene or Loomer in the party ranks.

A spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader Conservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 MORE (R-Calif.) did not respond when asked if Loomer would be welcomed into the GOP conference or granted committee seats if she were elected.

But in an interview on Wednesday hosted by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, McCarthy pointed to Greene’s comments last week after winning her primary, claiming that videos of her praising the QAnon conspiracy theory don’t represent her current stance. 

“She's a small business owner and she'll be given an opportunity,” McCarthy said, while noting he stripped Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingHillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it Steve King defends past comments on white supremacy, blasts NYT and GOP leaders in fiery floor speech MORE (R-Iowa) from committee assignments last year for controversial remarks.

McCarthy had previously condemned Greene’s inflammatory comments about Muslims and other minorities and privately offered support for her primary opponent. House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseJordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats Cedric Richmond's next move: 'Sky's the limit' if Biden wins Candymakers meet virtually with lawmakers for annual fly-in, discuss Halloween safety MORE (R-La.) was the only member of leadership to endorse, max out donations and hold a fundraiser for Greene’s primary opponent. Other GOP lawmakers were dismissive of Loomer on Wednesday.

“She’s an irrelevant nut job. She ain’t gonna win. All this does is provide her a revenue stream so she doesn’t have to have a real job,” one GOP lawmaker said. 

“Don’t both parties have their share of whack jobs who run every cycle?” another GOP lawmaker asked.

Rep. Paul MitchellPaul MitchellGOP lawmaker calls Trump-Biden debate 'an embarrassment' Overnight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military's eighth COVID death identified Bipartisan congressional task force recommends extending nuclear treaty with Russia MORE (R-Mich.), who is retiring, said that inflammatory views like Loomer’s may have helped her win a six-way primary and raise more than $1 million but wouldn’t help the GOP as a governing party.

“Apparently you can win a primary, you can win an election spouting conspiracy theories and attacking ethnic groups, but I don’t think it certainly doesn't help you govern,” Mitchell said.

Loomer has been banned from numerous social media and technology platforms for making Islamophobic comments. 

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“Someone needs to create a non-Islamic form of @uber or @lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver,” Loomer tweeted in 2017.

That same year, Loomer retweeted a headline from The Nation stating that more than 2,000 migrants had died crossing the Mediterranean. “Good. Here's to 2,000 more,” Loomer wrote with an applause emoji.

Greene, meanwhile, visited the Capitol Hill offices of Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarVeterans launch pro-law enforcement super PAC with battlegrounds ad buys Kamala Harris and the stereotypes we place on Black women Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair MORE (Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Kamala Harris's facial expressions during debate go viral MORE (Mich.) — the first Muslim women elected to Congress — and falsely claimed they were illegitimate because they took their oaths of office on the Quran instead of the Bible. 

Greene also previously posted videos on YouTube talking about QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory which claims that government officials and celebrities are controlling the government to undermine Trump and run a child sex-trafficking ring. Greene said in a Fox News interview last week that she longer associates with it after finding “misinformation.”

Some other House GOP candidates have also expressed openness to the QAnon theory despite the lack of evidence, including Lauren Boebert in Colorado, Mike Cargile and Erin Cruz in California, and Illinois's Theresa Raborn. Boebert has since walked back her remarks about QAnon.

Loomer, meanwhile, accused the student survivors of the 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., of “reading a screen or notes someone else wrote for them” and interrupted a House hearing in 2018 to accuse Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of trying to tilt the midterm elections toward the Democrats. 

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Riggleman said that he believes the attention garnered by candidates vocalizing conspiracy theories overshadows the work being done by others in the party.

“We have other fantastic people out there that are running and doing great work, and I'm working with them on the China Task Force. Those are the people that are really representing the GOP,” Riggleman said. 

“Candidates like this really actually hurt our profile, because it overshadows the great work that's being done by legitimate members.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday defended Trump’s praise for Greene and Loomer despite their records of racist remarks.

“The president routinely congratulates people who officially get the Republican nomination for Congress, so he does that as a matter of course,” McEnany said at a press briefing.

“He hasn't done a deep dive into the statements by these two particular women,” McEnany continued. “I don't know if he's even seen that, but he supports the Muslim community. He supports the community of faith more broadly in this country.”

Al Weaver contributed.