In case you’re wondering, Danielle Stella is still running for office.
After making headlines by flashing possible hints at the internet conspiracy group QAnon; bashing her opponent, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, at every opportunity; getting charged with shoplifting from Target; and getting kicked out of the Seward Community Café for creeping, she’s still at it.
Stella’s never responded to an interview request from City Pages, and she’s been otherwise difficult to pin down on elements of her campaign and her past. But on Sunday, Blunt Force Truth – a conservative podcast hosted by Chuck Woolery and Mark Young – aired an interview with Stella.
She started out by saying she was excited to be on the show. As well she should have been. Blunt Force Truth isn’t exactly a lion’s den for Republican candidates. The hosts certainly agree with her takes on Omar. During the course of the episode, they called her an “Islamist,” said she was “in opposition to everything our constitution is about,” “does not love our country,” and accused her of being “all about Sharia Law.”
But after that chipper note, the interview went downhill fast.
“So, clearly, you’re going to be confronted with a lot of tough questions, and you’re going to need to be able to answer those questions,” Young said. “So I’m going to throw a few at you here that probably need to be answered.”
First, they asked about the name that’s appeared on Stella’s LinkedIn and her multiple police reports: Danielle Sheridan. She confirmed that was indeed her. She explained that in 2008, she’d been the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalized. Her attacker had spent “less than a year in prison” and found her immediately after getting out. She got tired of changing addresses and schools to avoid him and decided to switch her last name to “Stella.” It’s not her legal name yet, but she’s working on that.
“I'm very sorry that happened to you, but by running for office now you’re upping your profile and making yourself vulnerable again no matter the name change,” Young pointed out.
“But I think that shows I’m very strong,” Stella said. “I’m a strong young lady… I believe in God, and I believe God will protect me as well.”
Then it was time to go into Stella’s “run-ins with the law,” which she assured the hosts would be “resolved in a court of law” with her proven innocent.
“These things that are coming out about me are because of a woman who said she was my campaign manager.” She “dismissed” this person “due to her behavior,” and she’d responded by allegedly doxing Stella on Twitter… among other things.
“She’s been having these armies of pedophiles come attack me. And that is disgusting to me, and apparently you cannot speak out against pedophilia on Twitter because it’s not PC.”
“You said there’s an army of… pedophiles?” Young asked.
“Yes,” Stella confirmed. “That’s who she’s sending after me.”
Far-flung as that comment may seem, this was about when Stella touched on a kernel of something very real. She said a lot of the attacks on her character aren’t necessarily coming from Democrats – they’re coming from her own party. Frankly, she hadn’t expected that.
“They’re saying ridiculous things like ‘Danielle’s a [Democrat] plant,’ or ‘She’s related to AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez],’ all these ridiculous things,” she said. “They’re engaging in conspiracy theories, and it doesn’t make any sense. They’re saying I’m a secret Democrat running in this district. If I was a secret Democrat, I would just run as a Democrat. It’s a heavily weighted Democrat district. I’m getting the majority of attacks from the right here locally.”
Stella, who has been accused of distorting the truth online and playing to fringe groups, is not immune to the funhouse mirror effect of conspiracy-driven social media. Still, she claimed to be having a pretty good time with the campaign so far.
But once Stella was off the air, Woolery and Young were a bit more skeptical. Besides making fun of her high voice (remarks about helium were made), they called her a “deer in the headlights” when confronted with the tougher questions, even if this “young girl’s heart” was “in the right place.”
“I don’t know,” Woolery said dubiously. “Anybody would be an improvement over Omar at this point.”
Stella didn’t respond to interview requests. Responses on Twitter were evenly mixed between people “wishing” they could vote for her, and people accusing her of being an “imposter” and having “the IQ of a potted plant.” Typically enough, it was as though the commenters had listened to two totally different podcasts.
On the day the podcast came out, she tweeted about climate change being a hoax and Democrats “politically weaponizing” the #MeToo movement. The day after, she retweeted a call out to those who support QAnon.