Far-right activist Laura Loomer built her name — and her fame — on her willingness to carry out political attacks that hardly anyone else would. She Crashed a Shakespeare in the Park Performance of Julius Caesar in which a Donald Trump stand-in was stabbed. She duped undocumented immigrants on Nancy Pelosi’s lawn.
Perhaps most infamously, she responded to a Twitter ban by handcuffing herself to a door outside the tech giant’s New York office while wearing a Star of David. (Since Loomer has only chained himself to one door, Twitter employees were still able to get in and out of the building).
Now in her second bid for Congress, this time in a primary battle against Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL), Loomer has found a new eccentric line of attack. Her opponent, she claims, is so weak that he wears a Life Alert necklace with a button to alert emergency services if he falls.
“We don’t need members of Congress walking around with Life Alert necklaces, too sick to vote,” Loomer told The Daily Beast, citing a photo she says Webster wears the necklace.
However, despite Loomer’s insistence, there is substantial evidence that Webster is not wearing a Life Lock necklace. Instead, he appears to be wearing a personal air ionizer, a device intended to purify the air around him. Webster is such a fan of the device that he even praised it in a House hearing in 2021.
Still, at a time when Republicans are scouring Joe Biden’s speeches for evidence that he’s senile, Loomers’ attacks on Webster, 73, may be getting some attention. But Loomer, 29, is running in Florida’s 11th district, home to the massive retirement community known as The Villages — arguably the worst place to attack an adversary’s age and health concerns.
“If there’s one district in America that sympathizes with that, it’s that district,” says Dr. James C. Clark, an expert on Florida politics and a senior lecturer at the University of Central Florida. “Florida 11 has more residents aged 65 or older than any district in the country. One in three people in the neighborhood is older than 65.”
Loomer’s attempts to win over older voters by attacking Webster’s age reflect her struggle to attack him from the right. After being defeated in her first congressional campaign and losing 20 points to a Democratic Representative in another Florida district, Loomer now struggles to portray a renowned congressman with a near-perfect conservative record as a “Republican in Name Only.” .
Even Loomer’s signature public outbursts — a tactic her supporters have dubbed “Loomering” — have failed. In April, Loomer and Webster, a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, both attended a local Republican club meeting. After Webster left after a short speech, Loomer stood up and tried to win over the crowd by complaining that Webster hadn’t answered questions.
However, instead of winning over new voters, Loomer seemed to antagonize them. The white-haired crowd grew restless as Loomer spoke, and a woman yelled that her speech was upsetting her. An older man motioned softly for Loomer to sit down.
“This is not the place!” a woman identifying herself as a Republican state commissioner thundered at Loomer.
Loomer gave up and sat down, grumbling to himself.
No public polls have been released on the race, and Loomer said her campaign would rather spend money on campaigns than on polls. There is some anecdotal evidence of enthusiasm for Loomer. Last month a fleet of seniors driving golf carts celebrated its campaign in The Villages. Loomer has raised about $100,000 more than Webster, but she’s also spent significantly more, leaving Webster with a cash advantage of about $200,000 at the end of June.
But Loomer has failed to secure perhaps the one thing that could help her compete with Webster: an endorsement from Donald Trump. Loomer has made Webster’s decision to skip the post-Capitol impeachment vote against Trump at a focal point of her campaign, implying that Webster abandoned Trump in his moment of need. (Webster has said he had a family medical emergency). Even as she tries to portray herself as the more committed Trump supporter, the ex-president remains silent.
Loomer insisted that Trump still has time to back her before the August 23 primary in Florida.
“I can’t speak for the president, but I’m a supporter, he knows I’m a supporter,” Loomer said.
In Trump’s absence, Loomer has support from Roger Stone and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. But its allies are not always consistent.
On Sunday, Loomer will campaign with Stew Peters, a former bounty hunter turned far-right Internet talk show host known for promoting the idea that snake venom has been injected into the water supply to give people satanic DNA.
This week, Peters unveiled a “documentary” intended to rekindle the satanic panic, including the claim that as many as 0.5 percent of American homes have horrific ceremonies intended to worship the devil. He also recently claimed that Loomer, who is Jewish, had become a Christian.
“Laura Loomer is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ,” the radio host told Telegram on Wednesday.
Loomer told The Daily Beast she is a “proud Jewish woman” and says she’s not sure why Peters said she converted. Still, she described herself as a supporter of “Christian nationalism,” the far-right theocratic movement embraced by Representative Marjorie TaylorGreene (R-GA).
“I support the Christian nationalist movement,” Loomer said.
It’s not clear why Loomer, who moved to the district last September, chose to take on Webster. Next door, Florida’s 7th District has a wide-open Republican field, with incumbent Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) who is stepping down to spend more time with her family. But Loomer had already made her offer to Webster before Murphy announced her retirement.
“For the life of me, I don’t understand why she didn’t go next door,” said Clark, the longtime Florida political observer.
Webster’s neighborhood presents a newcomer with different challenges. It’s a sprawling neighborhood without a single media market, making it expensive for Loomer to build its ad campaign.
To make matters worse, Loomer has made a series of decisions that seem to alienate voters. In 2018, she posed for spot photos before a fatal bridge collapse. In November, after the elections, she will to speak at a white nationalist conference.
Loomer also appears to be burning bridges with GOP leaders. She has called the Conservative Political Action Conference, from which she was banned for harassing reporters, “CringePAC.” Loomer also has freshman Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX), who has been embraced by Republican lords as a symbol of a more diverse Republican Party. In Telegram posts, Loomer has said Republican leaders paraded Flores as a “neon piñata” and accused Flores, who is Mexican-American, of secret loyalty to Mexico.
“She must be one of the dumbest new congressmen,” Loomer wrote in a Telegram message. “She spoiled faster than a liter of milk.”
When asked about the big odds her campaign appears to have, Loomer insisted she could win.
“I’m going to win,” Loomer said. “I know there are a lot of haters.”