A far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theorist won a runoff today for the Republican nomination for U.S. House in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, who runs a construction company with her husband, defeated John Cowan, a doctor, for the nomination in the 14th District, where incumbent Tom Graves, also a Republican, is not seeking reelection. In the primary in June, Greene won 40 percent of the vote and Cowan 21 percent, making them the top finishers in a field of nine Republicans. Under Georgia law, a candidate can’t win the nomination without a majority of the vote, so the two advanced to today’s runoff. Greene was leading Cowan 58.5 percent to 41.5 percent late Tuesday, and the Associated Press has called the race for her.
Greene is an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that “Donald Trump is leading a secret war against the ‘deep state,’ a group of political, business and Hollywood elites who, according to the theory, worship Satan and abuse and murder children,” as NBC News put it in a recent post. “These baseless claims emerge from posts by an anonymous user on a fringe internet forum who goes by ‘Q.’”
“QAnon grew out of the ‘pizzagate’ conspiracy theory, which claimed that Hillary Clinton ran a pedophilia ring from a Washington pizza shop. Many of the most popular QAnon groups are also pizzagate groups,” according to documents from a Facebook investigation obtained by NBC News, the post continues.
On LGBTQ+ issues, in April she protested at a drag queen story hour in Alpharetta, Ga., according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. A few days earlier, she posted on Facebook, “Trans does not mean gender change, it just means a gender refusal and gender pretending! Truth is truth, it is not a choice!!!” She was conflating dressing in drag with being transgender.
She has claimed Muslim congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib wish to impose Islamic religious law on the nation and said they were not sworn in to Congress legitimately because they used a Koran rather than a Bible (there is no requirement to use a Bible). She has baited gun control activists, such as David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, calling him “brainwashed.”
On her campaign website, she promises to save the U.S. from “the left-wing socialists who want to wreck our country” and calls another congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a communist. In a video on the site, Greene falsely claims the Democrats want to allow abortions up to the moment of birth and confiscate all guns.
In other videos, she has expressed “racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views,” NBC News reports. “In the videos, 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.”
Cowan is solidly conservative — anti-abortion and pro-gun, among other things — and both he and Greene positioned themselves as major supporters of Donald Trump. But, as The New York Times puts it, Cowan “does not believe in a ‘deep state’ of child-molesting Satanist traitors.” During the campaign, he had called Greene "crazy" and used the slogan “All of the conservative, none of the embarrassment,” the Times notes.
“The Republican establishment was against me,” Greene said in celebrating her victory, according to the Times. “The D.C. swamp is against me. And the lying fake news media hates my guts. It’s a badge of honor. It’s not about me winning. This is a referendum on every single one of us, on our beliefs.”
Her win will "put national Republicans in the difficult position of how to respond," CNN notes. The second-highest-ranking House Republican, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, repudiated her and campaigned for Cowan. But Greene had support from other prominent Republicans, such as U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan.
Greene will face Democrat David Van Ausdal in November; Van Ausdal was unopposed in his primary. But the district, located in northwest Georgia, is so heavily Republican that Graves has usually won handily, often with three-quarters of the vote, and some years the Democrats did not even field a candidate.