Extreme Republican candidates allege voter fraud after losing primaries in New York and Florida

Laura Loomer and Carl Paladino both came within sight of victory despite myriad racist and violent statements

Andrew Naughtie
Wednesday 24 August 2022 13:47 BST
Laura Loomer chains herself to door of Twitter HQ

Two of the most extreme Republican candidates who lost their congressional primaries on Tuesday are following Donald Trump’s example and blaming their defeats on electoral fraud – without providing any evidence for it.

Laura Loomer and Carl Paladino, who competed in Florida and New York, respectively, both came within single digits of their more mainstream opponents. Both have spent years chasing controversy, and have run for various high-ranking public offices without success.

Ms Loomer, a noted Islamophobe who has made a reputation staging stunt protests – including at congressional hearings – came within seven points of her main rival in Florida’s 11th Congressional District.

Reacting to her loss, she gave a tearful speech in which she insisted “I’m not conceding! Because I’m a winner, and the reality is our Republican Party is broken to its core,” blaming her defeat – and the supposed loss of the country as a whole – on “big tech election interference”.

Among those present at Ms Loomer’s election night party last night were well-known figures from right-wing extremist circles, including the white nationalist “groyper” Nick Fuentes.

Ms Loomer ran for Florida’s 21st District in the 2020 election cycle, on that occasion winning the Republican nomination in a crowded field. When chosen as the candidate, she was given a quasi-endorsement by Donald Trump, which the White House later claimed was simply a statement of congratulations. She ultimately lost the election by 30 points.

Meanwhile, in New York, perennial Republican candidate Carl Paladino – a Buffalo businessman notorious for a history of racist and incendiary statements – also lost his primary to a mainstream rival, leading a spokesperson to cast doubt on the validity of the results.

“We are seeing a number of statistical irregularities in a number of counties that we will be looking [into] in the coming days,” Vish Burra told local outlet WGRZ. “We want every single legal vote to count.”

Mr Paladino’s campaign had even begun seeding the idea of a compromised primary before voting was finished, with the candidate’s official account sharing stories of irregularities and telling voters to call his “electoral integrity hot line”.

Mr Paladino, who lost the 2010 gubernatorial election to Andrew Cuomo by a 30-point margin, was recently forced to backtrack after remarking that Merrick Garland “should be executed” for authorising the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago.

Earlier this summer, he also apologised for previously invoking Adolf Hitler in an interview and describing him as “the kind of leader we need today”.

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