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Politics Ron Watkins, who many speculate might be QAnon, eyes Congressional run in Arizona

04:35  15 october  2021
04:35  15 october  2021 Source:   salon.com

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a man standing in front of a crowd: QAon © Provided by Salon QAon

A woman holds up a QAnon sign to the media as attendees wait for President Donald Trump to speak at a campaign rally at Atlantic Aviation on September 22, 2020 in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Trump won Pennsylvania by less than a percentage point in 2016 and is currently in a tight race with Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

It appears that former 8chan administrator and QAnon mega-celebrity Ron Watkins is considering a run for Congress in Arizona.

Watkins, who many believe may be the source of the conspiracy theory after he appeared to out himself as Q to the documentary filmmaker Cullen Hoback earlier this year, apparently filed a "statement of interest" form Wednesday with the Arizona Secretary of State to run as a Republican in the state's first Congressional District, which would pit him against Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran.

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The paperwork, first reported by VICE News, marks the first public step toward mounting a campaign — the next is collecting signatures to qualify for a spot on next year's ballot.

Though Watkins did not respond to a Salon request for comment at either the email or phone number listed on the form, an employee at the Arizona Secretary of State's office confirmed to VICE News that it verifies all statements of intent before it posts them publicly — meaning the paperwork is almost definitely from the real Ron Watkins.

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The decision for one of QAnon's biggest stars to explore a run for federal office showcases just how deep the conspiracy theory has embedded itself in Republican politics, and should the campaign continue it will prove an important litmus test for the future of the party.

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Watkins already appears to be putting in some shoe leather in the state, and was seen mingling this week with other MAGA candidates and right-wing celebrities. This includes a now-viral photo with Trump-endorsed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, a former TV anchor who has embraced a wide swath of right-wing conspiracies, including Trump's Big Lie.

Before developing an interest in Arizona politics, Watkins served for several years as the administrator of 8kun — previously known as 8chan — where the original QAnon began posting cryptic missives after migrating over from 4chan. Q, of course, claimed to be an anonymous, high-ranking member of the Trump Administration with access to highly classified intelligence.

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After several security breaches in which Q's account was apparently hacked, many speculate Watson may have taken over the account — a theory that was bolstered by Watkins' apparent slip-up during an interview for a documentary made by Hoback for HBO called "Q Into the Storm."

In speaking about his newfound fame and fortune as a champion of Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud, Watkins said: "It was basically three years of intelligence training, teaching normies how to do intelligence work. It was basically what I was doing anonymously before."

He quickly tried to correct himself, but it appeared the damage had already been done: "...but never as Q. Never as Q, I promise."

Watkins does not appear to live in Arizona at the moment. He previously lived with his father, 8kun owner Jim Watkins, in the Philippines, and recently moved to Japan, according to VICE News.

This won't slow down his Congressional hopes, however — all he needs to do is move to Arizona before the campaign officially begins.

Some Arizona Republicans embrace election conspiracies as they bow to Trump .
Republican leaders nationally hope to move on from re-litigating the 2020 election as they set their sights on winning back the House and Senate in next year's midterms, but that may be a difficult shift to make in Arizona. © The Republic/Courtesy HBO/Zuma Mark Finchem, left, Ron Watkins and Kari Lake. GOP headliners running for some of the state's top jobs are making former President Donald Trump's baseless claims about election fraud central to their campaigns as they inject conspiracy theories into the debate. The most prominent Republican vying to take on Democratic Sen.

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