Georgia Democrat Challenging QAnon Supporter Drops Out of House Race

(CN) — With Election Day weeks away, the Democratic candidate who was running against Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, a candidate whose inflammatory and conspiratorial statements have garnered national attention, announced he has withdrawn from the race.

In a statement posted to Twitter Friday evening, Kevin Van Ausdal said “family and personal reasons” caused him to take steps away from the state and drop out of the race.

“When I started this, it was because I wanted to talk about what is happening to real people every day and how none of the anger and divisiveness was making anything better,” the statement said. “This rhetoric has turned into dangerous extremism, like the candidacy of Marjorie Greene.”

Van Ausdal’s statement said he was giving the state party a chance to put forward another candidate to face Greene in November.

In this March 3, 2020 file photo, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks to a GOP women’s group in Rome, Ga. (John Bailey/Rome News-Tribune via AP)

Greene’s expression of fringe political beliefs has been seen as a sign of their rise in prominence. And during her fledgling political career in the House district that leans red, she developed a reputation of being unapologetic about her past statements.

In the past, Greene has expressed support for the baseless conspiracy QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy that alleges he is fighting a cabal of child-sex-trafficking Satan-worshipers, and she has made anti-Muslim and racist videos.

The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Aug. 12 Greene has not walked back anti-Semitic remarks she has made and has not distanced herself from a white supremacist leader. 

In her acceptance speech after she won a runoff primary to be the Republican candidate for the seat in mid-August, Greene called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a bitch.

And while some Republicans such as Rep. Jody Hice took back his endorsement of Greene, President Donald Trump has described Greene as a “future Republican Star.”

The Democratic Party of Georgia said in a statement that the race for the 14th Congressional District seat now rests in the hands of the Georgia Secretary of State.

“We thank Mr. Van Ausdal for his service and send him our condolences in this difficult time,” the party said. “We are calling on the Secretary of State to disqualify him from the ballot and allow the (Democratic Party of Georgia) to name a replacement as soon as possible.”

David Boyle, chair of the Walker County Democratic Party that sits in the 14th District, said the district — which stretches from Lookout Mountain in the northwest corner down to the outskirts of Atlanta — is a bit different than the rest of the state.

“I would not want to be represented by the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene who is an extremist, who is not from the district, who really doesn’t know anything about the district,” Boyle said of Greene, who moved into the district to run for office.

Boyle said the predominantly Appalachian area orbits the media market of Chattanooga, Tennessee, relies on Tennessee utilities and tends to get overlooked by the Democratic Party in the state, which focuses most of its efforts on urban areas of Georgia.

For now, Boyle said, local party officials are waiting on what the state party will do, who was in a similar situation recently when it had to quickly field a candidate after the death of Rep. John Lewis.

Van Ausdal was a candidate with a young family who did his homework, held good policy positions and spoke well, Boyle said.

“I think he built a lot of friendships and a lot of connections that will transfer to the next candidate assuming that’s someone who is equally attractive,” Boyle said.

Greene extended best wishes to Van Ausdal in a statement on her Facebook page responding to the news.

“As the Congresswoman from NW Georgia,” she wrote, “I look forward to fighting for our Christian, American values and helping Donald J. Trump pass an #AmericanFirst agenda!”

The Greene campaign and the Van Ausdal campaign did not return requests for comment.

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