Ron Watkins, a man who is believed to be the founder of the QAnon conspiracy theory, has announced his intention to run as an Arizona congressional candidate.
Watkins announced his candidacy in a video he posted on Telegram, a group instant messaging platform. He said he would run for an Arizona seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The seat is currently held by a Democrat, Raw Story reported.
“President [Donald] Trump had his election stolen, not just in Arizona but in other states, too,” Watkins said during his campaign announcement. “We must now take this fight to Washington, D.C. to vote out all the dirty Democrats who have stolen our republic.”
Watkins’ announcement repeated the baseless claim that Trump lost the 2020 election due to an unprecedented national conspiracy of widespread voter fraud.
Trump’s former attorney general, head of U.S. cybersecurity infrastructure and a Republican-led audit of Arizona’s Maricopa County have all concluded that there’s no evidence that the 2020 election was stolen.
Ron Watkins, a man who has been accused as the founder of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, has announced his intention to run as an Arizona congressional candidate. In this photo, David Reinert holds up a large “Q” sign while waiting in line to see President Donald J. Trump at his rally on August 2, 2018 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.Rick Loomis/Getty
In April, Cullen Hoback—the documentarian behind Q: Into the Storm, a six-part HBO documentary about QAnon—said in his series’ final episode that he believed Watkins had posted on the far-right message board 8chan as Q, the mysterious leader of the QAnon movement.
Watkins has repeatedly claimed that he is not Q.
Whether Watkins is Q or not, he and his father helped run 8chan (now called 8kun), the website that popularized QAnon and helped it become a mainstream movement.
The 8chan platform is used to provide clues to the conspiracy’s followers through cryptic online information “drops.” Watkins disaffiliated from 8kun on Election Day 2020. Q hasn’t provided any additional updates since December 2020.
Nevertheless, the website’s original founder, Frederick Brennan, and Travis View, a leading QAnon investigator, have both publicly said that they suspect Watkins and his father of posting as Q. ABC News and the Reply All podcast have both said they suspect Watkins of closely coordinating Q’s drops.
QAnon believers allegedly think that a shadowy international child trafficking ring run by Satan-worshipping Democrats, Hollywood elites and lizard-humanoids sexually abuse and torture children.
QAnon believers also allegedly think that “deep state” agents in the government have plotted to stop Trump from exposing the trafficking ring.
The FBI has called QAnon a domestic terrorism threat. The conspiracy theory has been linked to several murders and death threats against politicians, but the movement has not partnered up with international organizations that actually work to prevent child trafficking.
The extremist watchdog organization Media Matters has counted at least 45 congressional candidates running in 2020 who have supported or endorsed QAnon.
Newsweek reached out to the Arizona Republican Party for comment.