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A Georgia congressional candidate who has called the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out” is locked in a competitive primary runoff this week. Top Republicans, however, seem content to let her do her thing until the problem can’t be ignored anymore.
Self-funded businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene placed first in the Republican primary on June 9 with 40% of the vote in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, which is currently represented by retiring Rep. Tom Graves. Because she didn’t gain more than 50% of the vote in the first round, she’ll face off against second-place finisher neurosurgeon John Cowan in Tuesday’s runoff.
Her win earned a congratulatory tweet from President Donald Trump, after Facebook removed an ad where she’s holding a gun and telling antifa to “stay the hell out of northwest Georgia.”
All in all, more than 70 candidates who’ve expressed support for QAnon in some way are running for Congress this year, according to Media Matters. Fifteen have made it to the general election, although the vast majority are unlikely to win. (Restaurant owner Lauren Boebert, who successfully primaried a Republican House incumbent in Colorado in a deep-red seat, has distanced herself from QAnon.)
After Greene’s June 9 performance, hours of racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic videos that she’d uploaded to Facebook were uncovered by Politico. In them, Greene compared Jewish Democratic donor George Soros to a Nazi, said Black people are “held slaves to the Democratic Party,” and likened the 2018 midterms to an “Islamic invasion of our government.” A grand total of three practicing Muslims were elected to the House that year.
When the videos were uncovered, Republican leaders including Rep. Kevin McCarthy denounced Greece’s comments and called them “appalling.” But aside from that, Republican leaders haven’t done much to oppose her campaign: Of the GOP leadership in the House, only Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana has endorsed and contributed to the Cowan campaign, Politico reported Sunday.
To boot, McCarthy and Greene have spoken several times over the phone in recent weeks, according to both McCarthy’s spokesperson and Greene. McCarthy’s office told Politico he has a “good and productive relationship” with both Greene and Cowan.
Greene, meanwhile, has her own supporters in high places: The House Freedom Fund, the campaign arm of the House Freedom Caucus; Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan; and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and his wife Debbie have all endorsed her, according to Politico. To date, Trump has not officially endorsed in the race.
The Greene situation is reminiscent of Iowa Rep. Steve King, a nine-term congressman who lost a Republican primary for re-election to GOP state senator Randy Feenstra in May. After more than a decade of racist and xenophobic public statements, King was only cut loose by McCarthy and other Republican leaders in January 2019 after he questioned why “white supremacy” is offensive.
It’s also evident some lawmakers are hesitant to attach their names to the anti-Greene effort, possibly out of a fear of being labeled as liberal or drawing the ire of QAnon supporters.
“I have been very involved in the John Cowan race. I’ve pushed House leadership to get involved, without having success,” one anonymous Republican lawmaker told Politico.
Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, Cowan called Greene a “circus act” in an interview with Politico.
“I want to win this race,” he said. “But more than that I want to protect the Republican Party. She is the antithesis of the Republican Party. And she is not conservative — she’s crazy.”
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Cover: In this June 9, 2020, photo, U.S. House District 14 candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene talks with attendees at her watch party on at the Courtyard by Mariott in Rome, Ga. (Olivia Morley/The Rome News-Tribune via AP)