Corrected, Aug. 12 | Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter who has filmed videos espousing bigoted ideas, is likely going to Congress after winning the Republican primary runoff for Georgia’s deep-red 14th District.
Greene’s victory, one of at least three this cycle for congressional hopefuls linked to the QAnon movement, represents a potential headache for GOP leaders who have tried to recruit a diverse class of candidates in response to criticism that the party has been too tolerant of extremism under President Donald Trump. QAnon is a wide-ranging conspiracy theory that alleges a “deep-state” plot against Trump.
Greene was leading neurosurgeon and business owner John Cowan 60 percent to 40 percent in the contest to replace retiring GOP Rep. Tom Graves when The Associated Press called the race at 9:44 p.m. Eastern time.
According to tweets by an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter before he was escorted out of a victory celebration, Greene told supporters that the “D.C. swamp is against me” and that “the radical left and their allies in the media are terrified.” She also called Speaker Nancy Pelosi a hypocrite and anti-American.
“And we’re going to kick that b--- out of Congress,” Greene said, according to the reporter Greg Bluestein’s tweet.
In Tuesday’s other Republican runoff, state Rep. Matt Gurtler lost to gun store owner Andrew Clyde in the neighboring 9th District, despite outside groups spending nearly $2 million to support Gurtler and oppose Clyde. By comparison, outside groups spent less than $190,000 either supporting Clyde or opposing Gurtler.
Clyde had 56 percent of the vote to Gurtler’s 44 percent when the AP called the primary to replace GOP Rep. Doug Collins, who vacated the seat to run for Senate. Clyde will be the heavy favorite in November against Democratic Army veteran Devin Pandy in a district Trump carried by 58 points in 2016.
In the 14th District, Greene next faces Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal, a financial technology professional. Democrats privately acknowledge that there is little chance she will lose the northwest Georgia district that backed Trump by 53 points. But they hope they can gain an advantage in more competitive seats in the state by tying other Republican candidates to her more controversial views.
Republican leaders in Washington rushed to condemn Greene when her videos surfaced in the weeks after Georgia’s June primaries. The comments that drew scrutiny included her warnings of an “Islamic invasion into our government offices,” her reference to Jewish businessman George Soros as a “Nazi,” and an assertion that gangs, drugs and lack of education were holding down Black and brown men in America. “That’s not a white person thing,” she said.
But she continued to raise money and retained the support of an outside group linked to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Greene, the owner of a construction company, had raised $1.6 million as of July 22. That included $900,000 she loaned her campaign. About half of the additional money she raised came in after Politico first reported on the videos on June 17. Cowan raised $1.2 million, of which $330,000 came in after the story broke.
Greene was also highlighted as a “priority candidate” on the website of the House Freedom Fund, which is connected to the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus. Since the runoff began, the fund has spent more than $14,000 on her behalf for email and telemarketing and “donation processing.” Drain the DC Swamp PAC has also spent more than $46,000 for digital, radio and TV ads supporting Greene, all since the report was published.
A Florida-based group called A Great America PAC that was formed in late July spent $30,000 on a media buy opposing Greene in the days leading up to the election.
Greene originally ran for Georgia’s 6th District in suburban Atlanta to challenge freshman Democrat Lucy McBath. But after Graves announced his retirement in December, she switched races and later moved with her family to Rome, the largest city in the 14th District.
The name of the group that spent $30,000 against Greene was corrected in this report.