This QAnon Candidate Could Cost Trump a Key Swing State

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

Mark Robinson, the hardcore conspiracy-theorist Republican running for governor in North Carolina, has been posting through it ever since his rise to power in 2021 as the state’s first-ever Black lieutenant governor.

He’s called the Holocaust “hogwash” and described the Nazis as “upstart amateurs in terms of manipulation and murder.” Robinson’s also drawn the attention of online extremist groups, including the white supremacist forum Stormfront, a website founded in the 1990s by a Ku Klux Klan leader in Alabama.

Robinson’s ties to the forum were previously reported in a Washington Post story in March, which mentioned a 2021 thread praising him as “the negro N. Carolina Lt. Gov” who “goes off on CRT, trans, jews, and anti-Americans. LOL!”

North Carolina Guv Frontrunner Had Secret Meeting With Ginni Thomas After Jan. 6

The candidate’s name has appeared in nine separate posts on Stormfront between 2021 and 2023, according to documents obtained by The Daily Beast. Robinson has also drawn a following on the QAnon forum The Great Awakening, appearing on at least 77 message board threads between April 2023 and March 2024.

“He’s an opposition researcher’s dream,” veteran North Carolina Democratic strategist Morgan Jackson told The Daily Beast.

Robinson serving as a fount of social media conspiracy theories and vile proclamations about the LGBT community, Jews, and other minority groups was one thing when he was running in a sleepy lieutenant governor’s race. Now, he’s facing the heat that comes with one of the most competitive gubernatorial races in the country, in which the spending will go from the six-figure tallies of his last race to likely more than a hundred million this cycle, Jackson said.

As the opposition researcher’s gift that keeps on giving, Robinson might be such a uniquely bad candidate that he could not only throw the governor’s race to the Democrats, but also jeopardize former President Donald Trump’s efforts to hold onto the state he won in 2020.

“DJT likes him a lot,” a Trumpworld strategist told The Daily Beast, requesting anonymity to relay private concerns over Robinson’s viability. “But the ticket-splitting in North Carolina is a real problem.”

Democrats have won seven out of the last eight governor’s races in North Carolina, while Republicans have won seven out of the last eight presidential contests.

If Robinson gets wiped out in the general election—even though he’s currently running neck-and-neck in early polls against his Democratic opponent, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein—both Democrats and Republicans wonder if it could cut into Trump’s vote total and give President Joe Biden a fighting chance at winning the battleground state.

Paul Shumaker, a longtime North Carolina GOP strategist who worked for Robinson’s opponent in the primary, said a so-called “reverse coattails” effect is entirely possible, where some voters back off from voting for Trump because of Robinson’s antics.

Shumaker has previously said “Democrats have been given the greatest messenger against Mark Robinson, and that’s Mark Robinson.” In his interview with The Daily Beast, he added that Robinson is the Democrats’ best hope at putting North Carolina in play at the presidential level, where Trump has been averaging a 5-point lead in the most recent polling.

“The Biden campaign will attempt to tie the two together,” Shumaker said in a text message. “Democrats have a major turnout problem and Trump will distance himself and withdraw his endorsement if Robinson becomes too much of a liability. Can’t underscore Ds turnout problems enough.”

Inside QAnon’s Rise and How Trump Became Its ‘God Emperor’

Both Shumaker and the Trumpworld strategist said another complicating factor over the next few months will be Robinson’s relationship with the business community, where his anti-Jewish and anti-LGBT remarks could lead firms to reconsider moving to the state or staying there if he takes over the governor’s mansion.

“Mark Robinson is the most extreme candidate for public office, period, in North Carolina—much less the race for governor,” Jackson said. “If you’re a CEO and you’re thinking of moving your business to North Carolina, and Mark Robinson is the governor, I think your employees are going to tell you they want to go somewhere else.”

The Robinson and Trump campaigns did not return a request for comment.

Even if Trump remains a fan of Robinson, those around the former president have begun to realize what kind of potential nightmare they might face in November.

“Clearly,” the Trumpworld strategist said, “it’s not great.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.