Far-right provocateur wins GOP primary in Florida
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A far-right social media provocateur whose hate speech got her banned from social media won her Republican primary on Tuesday and will challenge Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel for Congress in November.
Laura Loomer also won praise from President Donald Trump, who tweeted that she has a “great chance.” Trump’s new official residence, his Mar-a-Lago resort, is in the district.
Despite the president's confidence, Loomer, 27, will be a heavy underdog.
Frankel, 72, has been a political fixture for decades in the Palm Beach County district, which is so firmly Democratic that Republicans have only run a candidate in one of the four previous elections since its current boundaries were drawn in 2012. Frankel beat that challenger in 2016 by 27 points.
Loomer received 43% in a six-candidate Republican field, garnering 14,500 votes. Combined, the Republican candidates totaled 34,000 votes. Frankel, running against a political newcomer, received 75,000 votes, or 86% in the Democratic primary, which had 87,000 votes cast.
According to federal records, Loomer raised $1.1 million for her primary campaign, a hefty sum for an underdog challenger. She currently has about $200,000 left over. Frankel has raised about $866,000 for this campaign, but with money left over from previous elections, her campaign has more than $1 million available.
At Loomer’s victory party Tuesday night, according to the Palm Beach Post, she was feted by political provocateur Roger Stone, whose prison sentence for lying to Congress was recently commuted by Trump; right-wing writer and speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, who got fired by the website Breitbart in 2017 after he praised same-sex pedophilia; and Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys, a male-only group that describes itself as “Western Chauvinist” but has been deemed a white nationalist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"Lois Frankel doesn't know it yet, but she is going to get Laura Loomered," Stone told the crowd, calling Loomer the "Joan of Arc of the conservative movement."
Yiannopoulos told the crowd that Loomer is an "extraordinary woman" who has gone from "hell-raising activist" to "a true political phenomenon."
Neither campaign immediately responded to requests for interviews.
Loomer has been a guest on Fox News and alt-right programs after gaining followers by ambushing journalists and politicians in stunts posted online. Her campaign advisor is Karen Giorno, a political strategist who worked for Gov. Rick Scott and Trump's 2016 campaign in Florida.
After trying to hoax journalists with Project Veritas, Loomer moved to direct confrontations with public figures in recent years, disrupting interviews and news conferences.
At a 2018 campaign event for Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum at a Broward County synagogue covered by an Associated Press reporter, the synagogue's staff asked Loomer and a male companion to leave because they had disrupted previous Gillum events. When they refused, the staff had police escort them out. She yelled loudly, comparing her treatment to Nazis throwing Jews out of synagogues. It got her on TV news and the internet video went viral.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Medium, PayPal, Venmo, GoFundMe, Uber and Lyft have banned her, but her messages get out through tweets by supporters and other workarounds, the Palm Beach Post reported. Donors have contributed millions to her campaign.
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