The Far-Right Fringe of the GOP Just Got Some New Members

Including a self-described “pro-life extremist” and a Jan. 6 attendee who referred to abortion as “genocide.”
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Marjorie Taylor Greene (Joe Raedle/Getty Images), Lauren Boebert (Joe Raedle/Getty Images), and Jim Jordan (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Marjorie Taylor Greene,  Jim Jordan, and the rest of the most extreme GOP members of the U.S. House are going to have some new far-right friends joining them when the 118th Congress is sworn in in January—even as the Republican Party itself appears to have severely underperformed its expectations for the midterms.

The House was still up for grabs as of Wednesday morning. But while several of the party’s far-right candidates flailed in swing districts, the GOP was guaranteed to pick up a few extremists in safer districts. 

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There’s a self-described “pro-life extremist” from Florida, a Tennessee mayor who said conservatives were in a “spiritual war” against liberals, and a Jan. 6 marcher from Wisconsin who flipped a Democratic-held seat Tuesday. And if the GOP does ultimately take the House of Representatives, they’re all likely to play a big role in charting the path of the next Congress.

Andy Ogles, the mayor of Maury County, Tennessee, won in that state’s 5th congressional district, a formerly Democratic seat that was carved up by the supermajority GOP legislature in redistricting. In an interview in September, months after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, Ogles waved off concerns about rape and incest exceptions to abortion bans as a “red herring.”

“Statistically, those are not even part of the conversation,” Ogles told local TV station WKRN. “That is a red herring used by [the] left and radicals to try and taint the conversation.” He’s wrong: In 2017, there were nearly 4,500 pregnancies in children under the age of 15, nearly half of which ended in abortion, according to the abortion think tank the Guttmacher Institute

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After the self-described “most conservative mayor in Tennessee” won his primary, Ogles compared the ongoing political debate in the country to a “war.” 

“We’re at war. This is a political war, a cultural war, and it’s a spiritual war,” Ogles told his supporters after winning the primary. “And as we go forward, we’ve got to get back to honoring God and country.”

Ogles’ opponent, state Sen. Heidi Campbell, referenced the remarks in her concession speech Tuesday. “Despite what congressman-elect Ogles says, we are not at war,” Campbell said. “We are in this together.”

Anna Paulina Luna also won in Florida’s redrawn 13th Congressional District. Luna is an Air Force veteran who later worked at the right-wing youth organization Turning Point USA, and she’s appeared on talk shows hosted by far-right figures including election-denying MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to the Washington Post

Luna was also endorsed by Greene; last week, Luna—who is a Christian—told Jewish Insider that Greene’s endorsement of her specifically meant Greene couldn’t be antisemitic. (Greene has compared COVID-19 mask mandates to the Holocaust and blamed California’s tragic Camp Fire on Rothschild-funded “space solar generators.”) 

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“MTG did endorse me, and I was raised as a Messianic Jew by my father,” Luna told Jewish Insider. “I am also a small fraction Ashkenazi. If she were antisemitic, why did she endorse me?” 

Luna’s opponent, Democrat Eric Lynn, released an ad in August with clips showing Luna describing herself as a “pro-life extremist” and claiming that “obviously, I believe the election was stolen.” Luna told the Post that she was mocking an attempt by Lynn to “stereotype” her, and said her opponent is “lying about me and my positions to distract from the fact that he’s just another liberal rubber stamp for the reckless Biden/Pelosi agenda.”

Luna ultimately won easily, as Florida was the only state where a Republican “red wave” truly materialized. Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican who chairs the right-wing Republican Study Committee, said Tuesday night that Luna was a “rising star” and he was “thrilled to have her [in] Washington.” 

 

And in Wisconsin, Derrick Van Orden, a former Navy SEAL who narrowly lost in the same district in 2020, won an open seat against state Sen. Brad Pfaff Tuesday. Van Orden traveled to D.C. for former President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally on Jan. 6—which later led to the Capitol riot—and Pfaff made Van Orden’s involvement in the rally a key component of his campaign message. 

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Van Orden has said he did not enter to Capitol building on Jan. 6 and wrote in an op-ed after the attempted insurrection that he went to D.C. that day “for meetings and to stand for the integrity of our electoral system as a citizen and at the behest of my neighbors here in Western Wisconsin.”

After that trip Van Orden reimbursed himself with donor money for $4,000 in transportation and lodging expenses for himself, his wife, and a campaign staffer, the Daily Beast reported last year. In September, the Federal Election Commission dismissed a complaint alleging that Van Orden’s use of the campaign funds was unlawful. 

“The only people I’ve heard during this entire campaign [talk about him marching on Jan. 6]...I’ve heard Brad Pfaff bring this up, and activist journalists,” Van Orden told Spectrum News last week. “That’s it.”

During the 2020 campaign, Van Orden referred to abortion as “genocide.” Van Orden was winning by more than 13,000 votes when the AP called the race Wednesday. 

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More than 160 election deniers on the ballot for federal or statewide office won their races Tuesday, while more than 85 were projected to lose, according to the Washington Post. Several far-right Republican hopefuls for Congress, furthermore, lost extremely winnable races against liberal and moderate Democrats.

In a Raleigh-area North Carolina district, 26-year-old Bo Hines lost to Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel. Hines, a Trump-endorsed election denier and former GOP political staffer, proposed last month that victims of rape and incest who are seeking abortions should go through “a community-level review process outside the jurisdiction of the federal government,” according to WRAL. 

Former Trump assistant press secretary Karoline Leavitt also lost, to Rep. Chris Pappas, in her race for one of New Hampshire’s two congressional districts. Leavitt, who at 25 years old would have been the youngest person ever elected to Congress, has appeared on Bannon’s radio show multiple times and said during a primary debate that she was the only candidate in the race who believed that “the 2020 election was undoubtedly stolen from President Trump.”   During the general election, she said that she “recognizes that President Biden was certified.”

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Pappas easily won his third term, as expected Republican gains in the Northeast largely fell flat. 

Rep. Mayra Flores, an Elon Musk-endorsed, QAnon-adjacent Republican who flipped a seat in a special election earlier this year, lost to Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez. Flores conceded on Tuesday that the “RED WAVE did not happen,” and blamed conservative voters for “staying home.” She did hint, however, that she mayshe’ll mount another run for office in two years.

And Virginia Democratic Rep. Allison Spanberger prevailed Tuesday against Yesli Vega, a Republican cop endorsed by Trump. 

Vega  suggested during a campaign stop earlier this year that it was unlikely rape victims could become pregnant as a result of their assaults, falsely saying that the body rejects it “because it’s not something that’s happening organically,” according to Axios. This claim has no scientific basis

In Washington state, the race between former CIA paramilitary officer and Green Beret Joe Kent and Democrat Marie Glusenkamp Perez was too close to call Wednesday, as the state is likely to take several days to finish counting mail-in ballots. Kent has repeatedly referred to people arrested for rioting on Jan. 6 “political prisoners,” and said during a debate last month that he would back Lindsey Graham’s proposed federal abortion ban, though he dismissed the bill as “performative.” 

And in a race that wasn’t remotely considered competitive in Colorado, Rep. Lauren Boebert is on the precipice of falling in an enormous upset to Aspen City Council member Adam Frisch. With 90 percent of the vote counted, Frisch maintained a slim 3,500-vote lead Wednesday morning.  

Asked at her victory party if she would accept the result if she loses, Boebert “walked away without answering,” according to Colorado Newsline.

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