The Corner


The Disparate Coverage of Lunatic Candidates Who Win Primaries

(Gabriela Bhaskar/Reuters)

Last night, Republican primary voters nominated an infamous conspiracy theorist for a House seat . . . again.

Unlike Marjorie Taylor Greene running in the heavily Republican House seat in Georgia, Laura Loomer is running in a D+9 district against incumbent Lois Frankel in Florida, so it is unlikely that the next Congress will feature Loomer on the floor of the House of Representatives, arguing that mass shootings are staged or ranting about false-flag operations.

The victory of Loomer last night is on par with Alvin Greene winning the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in South Carolina in 2010 — an embarrassment and missed opportunity, but in a race the party was unlikely to win anyway and a footnote in the story of the overall election cycle. (You might argue that Greene is a more fascinating oddity, as apparently more than 100,000 people voted to nominate him knowing absolutely nothing about him.)

It is a fact of political life that sometimes primary voters will pick the absolute worst choice, and a party like the GOP will face what feels like endless media coverage of some figure such as Roy Moore or Todd Akin, and numerous efforts to tie every other Republican to fringe gadfly candidates.

Both parties have these kinds of candidates. Pam Keith, the Democratic candidate in Florida’s 18th District, declared all Republicans to be white supremacists. In Michigan, John Hoadley’s old Twitter feed includes a claim he went to a gay bar to learn about crystal meth and made references to “4-year-old girls wearing thongs.”

Sometimes those oddball candidates win. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently argued that New York City’s recent crime spike is driven by rent increases; it was left to Andrew Cuomo to observe that this explanation is particularly unlikely when evictions are currently banned. Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio recently chained himself to a mailbox to prevent Donald Trump from taking it away.  Representative Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania apparently just forgot to disclose his ownership of a private plane and million-dollar lake house in financial disclosures required by Congress.

The nice thing about being a Democrat is that unless you’ve been reading conservative media that spotlights embarrassing House candidates, you’ve probably never heard of Pam Keith or John Hoadley. Better-known, statewide-elected Democrats are rarely asked about these candidates or pressured to denounce them. Most of the national media — heck, most of the state-level media, to the extent state-level media still exists — doesn’t see a wacko candidate as reflecting any deep-rooted problem of extremism in the Democratic Party. There’s no broader lesson to be learned, no troubling narrative taking shape.

No, when a wacko wins a Democratic primary down ticket, it’s just some random thing that happens.


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