Marjorie Taylor Greene has won Tuesday’s runoff election for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s conservative 14th Congressional District, putting her on track to becoming the first open supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory in the House of Representatives.
Greene declared victory on Twitter Tuesday night, despite what she described as concerted attacks by “the GOP, the media & the radical left.”
“Tonight the people of Georgia stood up & said that we will not be intimidated or believe those lies,” Greene tweeted. “I’m excited to be the next Congresswoman of GA 14.”
The Georgia businesswoman and mother of three has built a reputation on social media as an outspoken proponent of QAnon, an internet-based conspiracy theory that holds that a government official known as “Q” is posting “classified information online to reveal a covert effort, led by President Trump, to dismantle a conspiracy involving ‘deep state’ actors and global elites allegedly engaged in an international child sex trafficking ring,” according to the FBI.
President Trump congratulated Greene on Twitter Wednesday morning, calling her “a future Republican star.”
Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent. Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up - a real WINNER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2020
As Yahoo News first reported last year, the FBI considers QAnon’s growing network of believers to be “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists, “who pose a potential domestic terrorist threat. Greene is among a growing field of 2020 candidates who have expressed some degree of support for, or engaged in promoting, content related to QAnon. According to a running tally by Media Matters for America, prior to Greene’s victory in Tuesday’s runoff, 19 of those candidates (including 18 Republicans and one independent) had already secured a spot on the general election ballot in November.
Greene, a construction company owner and Trump acolyte, was one of nine candidates who competed in the Republican primary race for the House seat currently held by outgoing Republican Tom Graves. She came in first place in the June 9 primary with 41 percent of the vote, triggering a runoff with John Cowan, a neurosurgeon, who followed in second with nearly half that. Both Cowan and Greene identify as pro-life, pro-gun and pro-Trump candidates who vow to crack down on illegal immigration. Since the primary, they’ve sought to differentiate themselves from one another through a number of personal and professional attacks.
The Republican nominee is considered a heavy favorite in the district in northwestern Georgia, which Trump carried in 2016 with 75 percent of the vote. But Greene’s extreme views and inflammatory rhetoric, controversial even among Republican leaders, have brought national attention to this runoff race.
In addition to her established affiliation with QAnon, Facebook videos unearthed by Politico after the June primary revealed Greene’s history of espousing racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views. The videos, in which Greene “suggested that Muslims do not belong in government; thinks black people ‘are held slaves to the Democratic Party’; called George Soros, the Jewish Democratic megadonor, a Nazi; and said she would feel ‘proud’ to see a Confederate monument if she were black because it symbolizes progress made since the Civil War,” prompted all three of the top House Republican leaders, as well as Rep. Tom Emmer, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Commission, to denounce Greene’s rhetoric. In a Facebook post, Rep. Jody Hice, a Republican who represents Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, in the eastern part of the state, called Greene’s comments “appalling and deeply troubling,” writing that he could “no longer support her candidacy.”
Greene’s controversial comments also reportedly cost her the support of KochPAC, the employee-supported political action committee of Koch Industries, which had donated $5,000 to Greene’s campaign one day before Georgia’s Republican primary on June 9. Koch Industries’ chairman and CEO is Republican megadonor Charles Koch.
In an email sent last month to OpenSecrets, a spokesperson for Koch Industries wrote that, “Upon learning of Ms. Greene’s comments last month, we immediately requested a refund of our contribution.”
“We do not condone such harmful and divisive rhetoric, and we deeply regret our decision to contribute,” continued the email to OpenSecrets, the website of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics which tracks the influence of money and lobbying on politics. “KOCHPAC is committed to supporting candidates and lawmakers who are dedicated to helping people improve their lives, not hurting and dividing us.”
OpenSecrets noted in its report that, by the time KochPAC donated to Greene’s campaign, her support for the QAnon conspiracy theory had already become the subject of news reports, as had photos that had “emerged of her posing with known neo-Nazi leader Chester Doles and members of right-wing militia groups.”
Greene made national news when she accused Facebook of “censorship,” after it removed one of her campaign ads in which she wielded a rifle while warning “antifa terrorists” to “stay the hell out of Northwest Georgia."
Greene’s campaign has received support from some of Trump’s most loyal allies in Congress. Yahoo News reported last week that, as of June 26, Greene had received more than $75,000 from the House Freedom Fund, the campaign fundraising arm of the House Freedom Caucus, whose members include some of Trump’s fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill.
Over the past several weeks, federal campaign filings show that the Freedom Fund PAC has continued to spend tens of thousands of dollars supporting Greene’s congressional bid.
In an earlier interview with Yahoo News, Kenneth Mayer, a political science professor and expert in campaign finance reform at the University of Wisconsin, suggested that the House Freedom Fund’s decision to back Greene is evidence of a growing chasm within the Republican Party over how to handle extremist candidates.
“As more and more moderates are driven out of the party and more extreme candidates gain prominence and get elected, this has clear implications for the party as a brand,” said Mayer.
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