Laura Loomer, a self-described ”#ProudIslamophobe,” is making her second run to represent Florida in Congress. And this time she might actually win.
Loomer has earned a reputation for her anti-Muslim extremism, repeatedly promoting conspiracy theories related to Islam and its adherents. In the past, she has tweeted that the religion is a “cancer” and that Muslims are “savages” who shouldn’t be “entering this country EVER AGAIN!”
She is now challenging Rep. Daniel Webster for the state’s 11th Congressional District in Tuesday’s Republican primary
A Loomer victory could underscore how anti-Muslim bigotry is welcomed by some Republican voters. She would join Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, as another far-right member of the House with a history of Islamophobic statements.
Loomer previously won the GOP nomination for Florida’s 21st District in 2020. Along the way, she received plaudits from former President Donald Trump, as well as endorsements from former Trump adviser Roger Stone and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida’s 1st District. She ultimately lost to Democratic incumbent Rep. Lois Frankel.
But her new run is taking place in a red district, where the Republican nominee has a much better chance of winning. And Loomer has raised over $100,000 more than Webster while also launching a series of personal attacks against his health and age. Webster had a pacemaker installed last year, but the 73-year-old said he has recovered and is in good health.
The National Republican Congressional Committee did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
“Webster faces a real threat here,” said Peter Schorsch, the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, adding that he’s not surprised Loomer was able to outraise the incumbent.
Located in central Florida, the 11th District has one of the highest proportions of seniors in the country, with a massive retirement community known as The Villages. Although Loomer, who moved to the district in September, may not have strong ties locally, she is able to connect with voters on subjects that matter to them, said Schorsch.
“This is the perfect district to be outlandish like she is. This is the perfect district to play on the conspiracy theories and anti-immigrant messages that she’s had,” he added. Though Schorsch thinks Webster is likely to win, he said he won’t be surprised if the margin is thin.
Multiple platforms — including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Uber, PayPal and Venmo — have banned Loomer for her online remarks.
After a white supremacist killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, Loomer wrote on the platform Telegram: “Nobody cares about Christchurch. I especially don’t.”
On Instagram, Loomer has previously said that “Muslims should not be allowed to seek positions of political office in this country” and repeatedly targeted her remarks at Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim. In 2019, she falsely claimed that the Minnesota Democrat is “pushing for another 9/11” and directed her followers to “rise up” against Omar.
In 2017, she tweeted that “Someone needs to create a non Islamic form” of ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft “because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver.”
In addition to peddling Islamophobia, Loomer has cozied up to other extremists and anti-Muslim groups, which have given money to her new campaign, said Caleb Kieffer, a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, which tracks and documents extremist political candidates.
“What we’re seeing more than ever is these kinds of candidates with ties to extremism feeling emboldened to run,” said Kieffer. “And whether or not they are long-shot candidates, it’s deeply concerning to see [Loomer and other extremists] viewing electoral politics as a way to get their message out — and if it works out, get into a seat of power.”
According to the SPLC Action Fund’s Exposing Extremism in Elections project, Loomer has also funneled donations through what it has deemed anti-Muslim hate groups. The project has documented nearly 70 candidates running for office across the country who either have ties to extremism or are associated with extremist groups deemed hateful by the SPLC.
“I don’t think anybody who places hate towards any group should be a member of office,” said Omar Saleh, an attorney at the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Last year, a federal judge in Florida ordered Loomer and her company, Illoominate Media, to pay over $120,000 in attorney fees to CAIR after the court dismissed her complaint that the group contributed to her Twitter ban.
“It’s not just about her personal beliefs,” said Saleh. “The people endorsing her ... are convicted criminals.”
He added that “the nation should be concerned when people like this gain popularity and support.”