Marjorie Taylor Greene, a businesswoman who has expressed support for the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon and been criticized for a series of racist comments, has won the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District.
Greene beat neurosurgeon John Cowan in a primary runoff for the open seat on Tuesday in the deep-red district in northwest Georgia, despite several GOP officials denouncing her campaign after videos surfaced in which she expresses racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views.
“WE WON! Thank you for your support! Save America. Stop Socialism,” Greene tweeted late Tuesday. A video posted to her Twitter account of her victory party showed a room full of supporters gathered closely together. Few, if any, wore face masks to protect against the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations early Wednesday.
“Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent,” Trump said. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”
In a victory speech posted to social media, Greene said she decided to enter politics because the country is heading in the wrong direction.
“So the Republican establishment was against me. The DC swamp has been against me. And the lying fake news media hates my guts,” she said. “Yep, it’s a badge of honour.”
She has amassed tens of thousands of followers on social media, where she often posts videos of herself speaking directly to the camera. Those videos have helped propel her popularity with her base, while also drawing strong condemnation from some future would-be colleagues in Congress.
In a series of videos unearthed just after Greene placed first in the initial June 9 Republican primary, she complains of an “Islamic invasion” into government offices, claims Black and Hispanic men are held back by “gangs and dealing drugs” and pushes an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who is Jewish, collaborated with the Nazis.
She’s ‘a true Christian’
Several high-profile Republicans then spoke out against her. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana quickly threw his support behind Cowan, while Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia rescinded an endorsement of Greene.
Greene also is part of a growing list of candidates who have expressed support for QAnon, the far-right U.S. conspiracy theory popular among some supporters of Trump. Lauren Boebert, another candidate who has expressed support for QAnon, recently upset a five-term congressman in a Republican primary in Colorado.
QAnon is a fringe belief propagated online that, in the main, claims “deep-state” traitors are plotting against Trump. There are wilder claims some believe involving an international network of powerful child-traffickers and a belief that John F. Kennedy Jr. is alive.
While not commenting on Greene personally, Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said on social media there was “no place in Congress for these conspiracies.”
Greene has positioned herself as a staunch Trump supporter and emphasizes a strongly pro-gun, pro-border wall and anti-abortion message. She has also connected with voters through an intensive effort to travel the district and meet people on the ground.
Qanon is a fabrication. This “insider” has predicted so much incorrectly (but people don’t remember PAST predictions) so now has switched to vague generalities. Could be Russian propaganda or a basement dweller. Regardless, no place in Congress for these conspiracies.
Larry Silker, a 72-year-old retiree, cast a ballot for Greene last week at an early voting location in Dallas, Ga.
“She seems to be a go-getter, you know. She’s out seeing everybody that she can, and I think that’s nice,” Silker said.
Asked whether he had seen criticism of Greene’s remarks, Silker said: “Well yeah, you know, you see it. But do you put faith in it? You just have to weigh it out.”
Voter Pamela Reardon said she supports Greene because she connects with people, and she’s anti-abortion, a defender of the Second Amendment and “a true Christian.”
“I got behind her because of her honesty,” she said. “She’s not going to be bought by anybody. I could tell that her heart was pure.”
Greene will face Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal in November. Van Ausdal acknowledged that he faces an uphill battle in the heavily conservative district in an interview Tuesday night and called on people across the country to rally behind his campaign.
Omar earns right to defend her seat in November
Meanwhile in Minnesota, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota survived a Democratic primary challenge Tuesday from a well-funded opponent who tried to make an issue of her national celebrity, the latest in a string of victories by a new generation of emboldened progressive lawmakers.
Omar, seeking her second term in November, easily defeated Antone Melton-Meaux, a lawyer and mediator who raised millions in anti-Omar money.
“Tonight, our movement didn’t just win,” Omar tweeted. “We earned a mandate for change. Despite outside efforts to defeat us, we once again broke turnout records. Despite the attacks, our support has only grown.”
Omar in 2018 became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, building on a national profile that started when the one-time refugee from Somalia was elected to the Minnesota legislature just two years earlier. Her aggressive advocacy on liberal issues, and her eagerness to take on Trump, made her a prominent target of right-wing criticisms.
After entering Congress with fanfare, Omar hurt herself early with comments about Israel and money that even some fellow Democrats called anti-Semitic and found herself apologizing. She also came under scrutiny when her marriage fell apart and she married her political consultant months after denying they were having an affair.
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Wendy Helgeson, 57, a consultant, backed Omar two years ago, even installing a lawn sign in her yard, and said she was “awfully proud of her being the first Black Muslim woman that we elected.”
“I admire her as a woman,” Helgeson said of Omar. “As a candidate, ehhh … I have some reservations.”
John Hildebrand, a 47-year-old teacher in Minneapolis who voted for Omar, said her national profile is an advantage.
“I think just her presence encourages other Muslims and Somalis to run for office and to seek to be represented,” he said. “I think she just engages people in the political system more and more.”