The victory of a QAnon supporter who has attracted national headlines for statements panned as racist and xenophobic is already factoring into the November election in Georgia.
Northwest Georgia voters picked Marjorie Taylor Greene over a neurosurgeon, John Cowan, who frequently pledged to be “all of the conservative and none of the embarrassment.”
Democrats wasted no time trying to capitalize on Greene’s Tuesday night win in the Republican primary runoff – an election night victory that was covered by national media because of Greene’s support of a pro-Trump conspiracy theory. Greene faces a Democratic challenger to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Graves in this deep red northwest Georgia district.
“Republicans have spent years appealing to conspiracy theories and spreading disinformation, and now they’re learning that you reap what you sow,” the national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post said in a statement Wednesday. Post called Greene “the new face of the Georgia GOP.”
Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, called Greene’s nomination a “stain” on the state GOP and said “Republican extremism is on the ballot across Georgia.”
To be sure, Greene has become a perilous litmus test for other Republicans competing in competitive statewide races this November, when President Donald Trump and both of Georgia’s U.S. senators are on the ballot.
Some Republicans in the U.S. House distanced themselves from Greene earlier this year after her offensive remarks came to light. Greene said George Soros, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, collaborated with Nazis and that Black people should admire Confederate monuments as symbols of progress made since the Civil War. She has also made troubling comments about Muslims.
Greene has openly backed theories advanced by QAnon, a far-right conspiracy that a deep state ploy is at work to remove Trump. And she triggered more national headlines this week when she called U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “b—h” when vowing to oust her during a victory speech.
“I will not apologize for standing up against George Soros and being willing to speak out against him, even when they want to call me an anti-Semite,” Greene said in her victory speech, which she posted on social media Wednesday. “I will not apologize for standing up to Black Lives Matter or terrorist groups like Antifa. I will not apologize for standing up to cultural Marxists who want to destroy our history and tear down our monuments.”
But on Wednesday, several Republicans – among them U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep Doug Collins, who is challenging Loeffler for her seat – congratulated Greene. Trump called her a “future Republican Star.”
“Did I miss your tweet condemning @JoeBiden when he said African Americans have no diversity of thought?” Collins tweeted in response to his Democratic challenger, Raphael Warnock, who criticized Collins and Loeffler for not condemning Greene’s views. “Or when he called a black reporter a junkie? What about when Ilhan Omar claimed Israel ‘hypnotized the world?”
Collins’ congratulatory tweet and defense of Greene is another sign that Greene’s successful far-right swing will have broader implications this fall, said Charles Bullock, a long-time political science professor at the University of Georgia.
Collins, Loeffler and Warnock will all appear together on the November ballot in a contest for former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s senate seat, along with several other candidates. A runoff is expected.
“This Greene success then creates a situation in which a Republican may think that he or she needs to veer to the right because they know that these people are going to vote and they’re committed,” Bullock said.
“So, they do that in the primary, but then it makes it awfully difficult, even more difficult, to scramble back towards the middle where that white female suburban vote, which could be critical in a general election, is located,” he said.
Bullock said Greene “extreme outspoken status to become the Republican AOC,” referring to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a New York Democrat.
Greene urged her supporters to hold other Republicans accountable. “If Republicans want to win in 2020, they need to listen to the message that I am speaking, because this is the message that represents the silent majority,” she said.