Dem Congressional Nominee Abruptly Drops Out of Race Against QAnon Conspiracy Theorist

Dem Congressional Nominee Abruptly Drops Out of Race Against QAnon Conspiracy Theorist
QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, seen in red, at an election event at Rome, Georgia in August 2020. (Photo: Mike Stewart, AP)

Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon conspiracy theorist endorsed by Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for Congress in Georgia’s 14th district, was already more than heavily favoured to win. Now it’s a virtual guarantee that she’ll walk into Congress next year with the dropout of her Democratic opponent in the race.

Per the New York Times, Democratic nominee Kevin Van Ausdal announced on Friday “family and personal reasons” are “taking me away” from Georgia and his campaign is coming to an end as a result. In a statement, Van Ausdal wrote, “I am heartbroken to announce that for family and personal reasons, I cannot continue this race for Congress. 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.”

The state will begin printing absentee ballots next Tuesday, meaning there is virtually no time left for the state Democratic Party to pick a replacement nominee. According to the Times, a spokesperson for the party said that it is “calling on the secretary of state to disqualify him from the ballot and allow [Democrats] to name a replacement as soon as possible.”

Greene has been documented as engaging in racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric on numerous occasions. She’s regularly promoted conspiracy theories, such as that a 2018 gun massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School could have been a “massive false flag.” Another theory touted by Greene is the ludicrous QAnon hoax, which asserts Donald Trump is fighting a classified war with a cabal of Satanic pedophiles whose ranks populate everything from the Democratic Party to big business and Hollywood. This theory is based entirely off an anonymous individual (or a group of people) posting to image boards like 4chan, 8chan, and 8kun under the moniker “Q,” who is claimed to have high-level security clearances within the Trump administration. Members of the movement have been involved a killing, gun standoffs, and other crimes.  

Fuelled in large part by social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, QAnon has steadily wormed its way into more mainstream conservatism and could be accurately described as the future of the GOP. The White House, seeing QAnon as a reliable group of the president’s most hardcore supporters, has stopped just short of openly lying that Q’s claims are true. But figures throughout the Republican Party and close to the White House have cultivated QAnon’s growth. The president recently said he appreciated the movement “because they like me.”

Republicans have largely avoided doing anything to stop Greene other than issuing a handful of statements condemning her remarks, and she has allies in the party including the House Freedom Caucus and Representative Jim Jordan. More recently, the candidate has spread bogus claims about medical face mask use during the novel coronavirus pandemic, and Facebook deleted one of Greene’s ads featuring her holding a rifle alongside photos of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.

Greene, already considered a shoe-in, claimed victory in the race following Van Ausdal’s dropout. According to the Times, the Cook Partisan Voter Index calculated the district swings 27 points more Republican than the national average. Republican incumbent Tom Graves won the 14th district 76.5 per cent to Democrat Steven Foster’s 23.5 per cent in 2018. With the elections less than two months away, that leaves the odds of a last-minute Democratic replacement surging to victory at close to zero.

In other QAnon news, the Daily Beast reported on Friday that a prominent member of the movement — Austin Steinbart, who goes by the handle “BabyQ” and claims Q is a version of himself from the future — was arrested while on pre-trial release for an extortion charge. At the time of his arrest, Steinbart was reportedly in possession of a “Whizzinator,” a plastic, penis-shaped device designed to allow users to substitute clean urine for their own for drug tests.