Marjorie Taylor Greene’s main opponent earns GOP money


IIt’s no secret that Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has a rocky relationship with her own party. In February, she angered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell after she attended a conference hosted by a white nationalist, and in October she was criticized for announcing in the House that her colleague Moderate Republican Rep. Liz Cheney was a “joke” for participating in an investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which Greene has been accused of helping to incite.

But a growing number of Republican lawmakers and lobbyists are hoping it’s payback time. In the weeks leading up to the May 24 primary in Georgia, revelations from the Federal Election Commission show an influx of Republican dollars to Greene’s main challenger, Jennifer Strahan, an executive at a health care consulting firm without political experience. That intra-party support may not be enough to unseat Greene in the ultra-conservative 14th Precinct, experts say, as Greene has raised more than $8 million in total, more than any other incumbent in the state. But the support is telling: A battle for the soul of the Republican Party is being played out in a slice of northwest Georgia.

Since launching her campaign in early July, Strahan has raised about $322,615, a gain that puts her on par with some sitting lawmakers running for re-election in Georgia. “For a challenger, that’s a decent amount of money,” says Miles Coleman, associate editor of election forecaster “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “Anytime a non-holder raises more than five figures in a quarter, it catches my eye.”

Among Strahan’s contributions are a $5,000 donation from Continuing America’s Strength and Security PAC, PAC leadership from Louisiana GOP Senator Bill Cassidy, as well as donations from former Virginia GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock and the former Oklahoma senator Don Nickles, according to FEC disclosures. . Several PACs, including Value in Electing Women (VIEW), Associated General Contractors of America and Business-Industry, have also donated to Strahan’s campaign. It was the first time the VIEW PAC had backed a candidate against an incumbent.

Straham’s campaign has also received contributions from a handful of Democrats, including lobbyist Jeffrey Forbes, as well as several Atlanta-based consultants and business leaders. From July to December 2021, a third of his donations came from outside of Georgia. “We think Republicans are moving away from Marjorie Taylor Greene en masse,” said Jake Monssen, Strahan’s communications director. “We hear that from her former supporters every day on the campaign trail. She is an absolute and utter embarrassment to Georgia and our party.

Political insiders aren’t so sure. The conservative rioter known universally as MTG still has about $3 million in campaign funds, a staggering sum for a district of less than a million people. “It’s Marjorie Taylor Greene versus herself,” says Georgia GOP strategist Jay Williams. “She’s not going to lose unless she does something absolutely heinous.”

Other hopefuls lining up to challenge Greene during of the May 24 primary.

As Georgia becomes a battleground between Republicans and Democrats — with one Democrat winning the state Senate seat in 2021 — the 14th District remains squarely in Republican hands. It is considered one of the most Republican districts in the country, according to a Cook Political Report analysis of the election results. The population is predominantly white and predominantly rural. Most residents have only a high school diploma, and the median household income is about $10,000 lower than the national average. For conservatives like Greene, this is home.

“Republicans don’t typically throw out their incumbents,” Williams says, “and it’s not a place where you can easily do that, especially as a moderate.” The district became slightly more subdued in late December when Gov. Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s new congressional map, adding a small suburb of Atlanta to his district lines.

Republicans and mainstream lobbyists who back Strahan’s campaign say they think she will be able to do more in Washington than Greene, whose two-year freshman term was mostly distinguished by business extracurriculars and inflammatory comments. “What’s the point of having a Conservative representative if it’s not effective,” Coleman says. “If the GOP has all these members like MTG, they can take the majority but they can lose it if that’s the face of the party.”

Greene is not known for advancing legislation or policy on the Hill, nor is she a central player in the day-to-day business of Congress. Last February, House Democrats stripped QAnon-adjacent political novice AR-15 of her committee assignments for pushing unfounded conspiracy theories and lies that included racist and anti-Semitic tropes. In March, Free Speech for People, a national campaign and election finance reform group, filed a challenge with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office that alleges Greene helped facilitate the violent Capitol insurgency, sparking a quiet debate among members of her own party that she could be disqualified from office for violating the 14th Amendment.

The lawsuit might be the only thing that could end his political career, Williams says. “It’s literally that – or find a dead body in the back of your car,” he says. “But that won’t happen.”

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Write to Nik Popli at nik.popli@time.com.


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