A Georgia Republican primary runoff election on Tuesday has resulted with voters selecting a candidate who promotes a highly dubious and potentially violent far-right conspiracy theory.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is a supporter of the QAnon set of conspiracy theories, defeated John Cowan in a runoff primary race in Georgia’s 14th congressional district. Being one of the most Republican districts in the country, Greene’s win on Tuesday means she’s likely to take the seat in the general election in November, too.
Though both Greene and Cowan are strong supporters of President Donald Trump, Cowan sought to differentiate himself from Greene by highlighting her fervent belief in the unproven conspiracy theory.
“She deserves a YouTube channel, not a seat in Congress,” Cowan said of his opponent during the campaign. “She’s a circus act.”
Indeed, many Republicans sought to distance themselves from Greene’s candidacy, a fact that she herself noted in her primary election victory speech on Tuesday night.
“The Republican establishment was against me. The D.C. swamp is against me. And the lying fake news media hates my guts,” Greene said, adding that she’s “just as fed up with what I’ve seen from spineless Republicans” as she is with what she believes Democrats in Washington represent.
Though she wasn’t the “mainstream” choice of Republicans, Greene did receive support from other far-right conservatives in Congress, including from Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who raised thousands of dollars on her behalf. A political action committee with ties to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows also helped to fund her campaign win.
Greene even got a congratulatory note from Trump himself on Wednesday morning.
“Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent,” Trump tweeted. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”
Greene’s win may prove difficult for Republicans running for office elsewhere, however, as they try to appeal to a mainstream audience, particularly in suburban areas where the party is hoping to do well in order to win the White House and several congressional seats. With one of its own candidates peddling in QAnon conspiracies, that goal becomes much more difficult.
The QAnon conspiracy is actually a wide set of theories. Broadly speaking, QAnon followers believe that there is a widespread Satanist cabal of Washington insiders (typically Democratic-leaning), businesses and media companies that are running a massive child trafficking ring throughout the country. Trump, according to those who believe in the theory, is waging a secret war to defeat this supposed cabal, which will lead to the eventual conviction and execution of those involved.
The name “QAnon” comes from the original “source” of the conspiracy theory, a user named “Q” who appeared on the anonymous 4chan user boards, leaving “breadcrumbs” of clues for followers to read in order to stay aware of the situation, often reinterpreting mainstream news stories as being something more than what they were.
Followers of the QAnon conspiracy number in the millions — a fact underscored just this week when social media site Facebook took action against thousands of groups and pages promoting QAnon theories.
Users and groups sympathetic to the conspiracy theories have also faced bans on other sites, including on Reddit, which closed a popular QAnon group in 2018 after users consistently urged violent actions to further their cause.
“We are very clear in our site terms of service that posting content that incites violence, disseminates personal information, or harasses will get users and communities banned from Reddit,” the company said in a statement at the time.
Some believe that the conspiracy theory may be instigating violence offline, too, with a report from West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center alleging that QAnon “represents a militant and anti-establishment ideology” that could threaten national security. The FBI last year also issued a bulletin that stressed “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” like QAnon followers could inspire “groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts.”