Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican candidate for Georgia’s 14th Congressional seat and a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, has a clear path to victory in November, after her Democratic opponent dropped out of the race.
Kevin van Ausdal left the race on September 11, initially just offering “family and personal reasons,” but the next day told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that his wife filed divorce papers and he was going to move out of state.
Greene has attracted much controversy since she won the Republican primary in August, much of it stemming from videos she posted online before her run expressing support for QAnon and suggesting that Hillary Clinton worships Satan.
Here’s what you need to know:
Van Ausdal Dropped Out on September 11 for ‘Family & Personal Reasons;’ the Next Day He Said He Was Moving to Indiana Amid a Divorce
Van Ausdal, 35, a technology specialist and poll worker, was always considered a long shot for the Congressional seat, with the 14th District traditionally voting straight Republican, the Intercept reported.
On September 9, however, Van Ausdal’s campaign announced that he was polling at 40% — a first for a Democrat in Georgia’s 14th. The campaign urged voters to stand with Van Ausdal “against QAnonsense,” referring to Greene’s bizarre past statements.
I want you all to hear this from me directly: I am heartbroken to announce that for family and personal reasons, I cannot continue this race for Congress. After lengthy discussions with my team, attorneys, party officials and others, the answer was clear. Stepping aside would be the best for the voters. The next steps in my life are taking me away from Georgia, so I will be disqualified from serving in Congress and will give the party a chance to put forward a candidate that can carry this fight to the end.
Van Ausdal also said that a climate of divisiveness in the country had resulted in “dangerous extremism, like the candidacy of [Greene].”
On September 12, however, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Van Ausdal’s wife had filed for divorce, and as part of the arrangement he would be moving out of their home. Van Ausdal eventually decided to move in with family in Indiana, the outlet reported. A campaign aide later confirmed to the AJC the details behind Van Ausdal’s decision.
Greene posted a message to Twitter on September 11 offering Van Ausdal her “best wishes.”
“Now, let’s all work together to re-elect Donald Trump, hold the U.S. Senate, repeal Nancy Pelosi as speaker and help Georgia Republicans win,” Greene said, adding one of her campaign slogans: “Save America. Stop Socialism. Defeat the Democrats.”
The same day that Van Austen announced his withdrawal from the race, incumbent Republican Congressman Tom Graves announced he would step down early. Graves said that he would wrap up any outstanding business by October, CNN reported.
“Congress is going into a long recess and my committee work will be complete. In short, my work will be done. I’m announcing this today to avoid surprises, and it just doesn’t seem right to kill time on the taxpayer dime,” he said.
Greene Has Tried to Leave Her QAnon Supporting Past Behind Her During the Race, But Has Posted Controversial Ads That Appear to Threaten Violence
Greene appears to have been mostly silent on QAnon throughout the race, but past interviews and videos she posted have shown her claiming that predictions made by “Q” have come true and that Q is a “patriot, for sure.”
Also, in a YouTube video, Greene said that Hillary CLinton was “obviously involved” in Satan worship.
Two of her digital ads have been taken down by Facebook, both of which showed her brandishing an assault rifle and appearing to threaten violence — first to “antifa” and second to the so-called progressive “Squad.”
The second image, which shows Greene holding a scoped rifle next to unflattering black and white images of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — all women of color — declared that Greene is the “squad’s worst nightmare.”
Facebook took the ad down on September 4 for violating the site’s policies against violence and incitement, Business Insider reported.
Georgia May Not Be Able to Put Another Candidate on the Ballot Before November 3, Per State Election Law.
Under Georgia state election law, when a candidate withdraws within 60 days of an election, the party cannot place a different candidate on the ballot to fill the vacancy, Coosa Valley News reported.
Van Ausdal’s campaign manager, Vinny Olsziewski, told the outlet that with the campaign raising money and potential penalties should the candidate, who would no longer be a district resident, stay on the ballot, the campaign “had no choice.”
“We had to stop the train,” he said.
If Greene wins in November, she would be the first Congressperson elected who openly supports QAnon. Greene has not responded to comments, yet.