Laura Loomer, the far-right gadfly and conspiracy theorist, has prevailed in her bid to become the Republican Party's candidate for Florida's 21st Congressional District. She will face incumbent Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat, in the general election.
The district is heavily Democratic, and any Republican would be unlikely to win. The GOP can't stop people from trying. Moreover, it can't prevent insane racists like Loomer from pursuing elected office under the auspices of the Republican Party.
But Republican officials don't need to openly embrace such people either. Unfortunately, both Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.)—a rising star in the GOP with an increasingly large public profile—and President Donald Trump have expressed support for Loomer. Gaetz even endorsed her during the primary, when the GOP technically had other options.
This is embarrassing because Loomer is a lunatic. She previously said that someone should create a "non Islamic" version of Uber so that she could avoid giving money to immigrant drivers. She celebrated the deaths of 2,000 migrants and expressed hope that more would die. She went to Parkland, Florida, on behalf of InfoWars to spread misinformation about the 2018 mass shooting, and also teamed up with far-right grifter Jacob Wohl.
She even posed for a picture with alt-right leader Richard Spencer in Washington, D.C., on January 19, 2017. Spencer's views were already well-understood by the public at that time, and Loomer's caption on the picture makes it clear that she knows exactly who he is.
Some in the media frequently try to portray brash new Republicans as secret nazis: Jezebel implied that 25-year-old North Carolina House candidate Madison Cawthorn was possibly a white nationalist in part because his haircut is similar to Spencer's. The case against Cawthorn rested on dishonest smears. The case against Loomer, on the other hand, is obvious and persuasive. Her associations with the alt-right, conspiracy theorists, and crazy provocateurs are direct and numerous. Republicans should want nothing to do with her.
The failure to ostracize Loomer matters, because many conservatives are currently trying to portray the Democratic Party as beholden to kooks of the far-left. For instance, after it was revealed that Women's March organizer Linda Sarsour—an activist with anti-Semitic associations—had a small role at the Democratic National Convention, Trump surrogates asserted this proved that the Democrats are the party of division and hate. But former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic candidate for president, swiftly condemned Sarsour's views. There has been no equivalent condemnation of Loomer from the right. On the contrary, she is being openly embraced.