Far-right activist Laura Loomer won the Republican primary in Florida’s 21st Congressional District on Tuesday, and will face off in the general election against veteran Democratic incumbent Lois Frankel, setting a female Jewish showdown in President Donald Trump’s home district. The district is considered solidly Democratic, and Frankel is expected to defeat Loomer, who is famous for her anti-Muslim internet provocations.
Loomer, who has been banned from Facebook and Twitter for espousing hate speech and promoting wild conspiracy theories, easily defeated five other candidates in the district’s Republican primary, gaining 42% of the vote. Trump quickly congratulated Loomer on her win, tweeting, “Great going Laura. You have a great chance against a Pelosi puppet!”
On the Democratic side, Frankel, a four-term Congresswoman and former mayor of Palm Beach, handily defeated Guido Weiss, a 30-year-old former Congressional aide who wanted to give speeches in Hebrew on the floor of the House of Representatives if elected.
The district, which includes Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and parts of Broward County in southern Florida (as well as Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club), gave Hillary Clinton 59% of the vote in 2016 to Trump’s 39%.
That means Loomer’s chances to be elected to Congress are very small. But Loomer, 27, who has emerged over the past two years as one of the most provocative far-right online personalities of the Trump era, succeeded in raising more than $1 million for the primary, and with Trump’s endorsement, could continue to raise funds successfully for the general election.
Loomer’s highly publicized conspiratorial and hateful statements have led to bans on various social media platforms, including Instagram, Medium and even Uber Eats.
When it comes to Israel, Frankel is considered a moderate and has strong ties to pro-Israeli lobby groups. She supported Trump’s moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, but opposes unilateral settlement annexation and has blasted Republicans for using “Israel and the Jews as a political football.”
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The general election battle between Frankel and Loomer will highlight two very different constituencies within the American Jewish community. Frankel, 72, is liberal on most domestic policy issues, and supports Israel while criticizing some of the Israeli government’s policies. Those views are typical of most American Jews.
Loomer is part of a small but vocal group within the Jewish community that promotes anti-Muslim views, which is what has gotten her banned from social media platforms time and again.
Twitter banned her in November of 2018 for calling newly elected Congresswoman Ilhan Omar "anti Jewish" and claiming that in her religion "homosexuals are oppressed," "women are abused" and "forced to wear the hijab." Loomer, a former correspondent for far-right media outlet The Rebel, later chained herself to Twitter’s front door and has focused her campaign around supposed “left-wing censorship” in Silicon Valley.
In May 2019, Loomer was banned from Facebook and Instagram along with the likes of Yiannopoulos, Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones. The ban came a month after Loomer claimed on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, that Rep. Omar wanted “another 9/11” and said that “Islam is a cancer.”
Loomer has since used right-wing social media platforms like Parler and Gab to help her very successful fundraising effort. Loomer’s donors include serial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (she was a regular guest on Jones’ “InfoWars”) and she recently picked up public endorsements from Trump-world insider Roger Stone and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. Stone and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at Loomer's victory party.
Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper, one of the most popular media outlets in the south Florida region, endorsed one of Loomer’s opponents in the primary, nuclear engineer Christian Acosta, saying that Loomer’s “nomination would be a cancer on the Republican Party.” The paper also urged voters to choose the “conventional Republican” in the primary race.
Loomer did score an endorsement from Republicans Abroad Israel co-chairman Marc Zell, who put out a video calling her “a heroine of Israel” who “will put the ‘Squad’ in its proper place.”
In an interview last week with Jerusalem-based Israel News Talk Radio, Loomer was asked what this election means for Jewish Americans. “We have jihadists in Congress who are supporting BDS and calling for the eradication of Israel,” Loomer responded, adding, “It’s what President Trump said, the Democrat Party is the party of Israel haters and Jew haters.”
Loomer framed the general election as “the first time in history a Republican Jewish woman goes up against a Democrat Jewish woman, so we are putting the Jews on trial in district 21.”
Having won the primary, Loomer joins other controversial winners in Republican primaries this year who have expressed support for conspiracy theories, the most prominent being Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is likely to get to Congress because her district is solidly Republican.
Loomer continues to double down on her extreme language, arguing that a vote for a Democrat in November is akin to supporting “a party that is endorsing BLM [Black Lives Matter], which has an anti-Zionist, anti-Israel message and thinks it’s okay to have people like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib in Congress, calling for dehumanization of Jews.” And while Loomer is unlikely to defeat Frankel come November, it appears Loomer will remain a mainstay in Republican politics as long as her attack lines continue to attract donors.