ATLANTA — The Democratic candidate running against Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory and been criticized for other incendiary comments, is dropping out of their race for a U.S. House seat representing northwest Georgia.
Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal bowed out of the race for Georgia’s 14th congressional district on Friday. His campaign manager Vinny Olsziewski told The Associated Press that Van Ausdal was exiting the race for “personal and family reasons.”
Van Ausdal faced long odds in the deep-red district. On Friday, he tweeted that his team believes a candidate can replace him. The Secretary of State’s office told Channel 2 Action News that the 60 day window to replace Van Ausdal as a candidate has passed and a new nominee cannot be named.
A Democratic spokesperson believes that Van Ausdal can be replaced because he will be disqualified for moving out of state.
The Democratic Party of Georgia sent Channel 2 Action News a statement that said: "We thank Mr. Van Ausdal for his service and send him our condolences in this difficult time. We are calling on the Secretary of State to disqualify him from the ballot and allow the DPG to name a replacement as soon as possible.”
The QAnon Conspiracy
QAnon is a conspiracy born on the internet that centers around dozens of politicians and A-list celebrities being part of a child sex trafficking ring.
The "Q" refers to the name of an anonymous person whose posts on certain message boards began the conspiracy.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray spoke with Greene at length earlier this month about the theories.
“Would you consider yourself a follower of QAnon? What does that mean?” Gray asked Greene.
“Well, I think what we all need to recognize, and actually most people know about, and I’m sure you do as well, if you do follow the news, which I’m sure you do, is there is a deep state that exists,” Greene said.
Greene was the leading vote-getter in the Republican primary to replace Tom Graves, representing Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. She then won a primary runoff.
The hours of videos she’s posted to social media have led many national and state Republican leaders to condemn her.
This includes House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who told Channel 2 Action News that “the comments made by Ms. Greene are disgusting and don’t reflect the values of equality and decency that make our country great.”
Georgia Republican Rep. Jody Hice rescinded his endorsement of Greene in a Facebook write-up, “I find Marjorie Taylor Greene’s statements appalling and deeply troubling.”
“I think that was unfortunate that they were pressured, probably pressured so to speak, by people in the media to make statements about me, and they just hadn’t learned about me yet,” Greene said.
Greene has shared videos about Black Lives Matter, Muslims and Democratic donor George Soros.
“You said George Soros is the piece of crap. He’s a Jew that turned his own people over to the Nazis. People would say that’s anti-Semitic?” Gray asked Greene.
“Turning people over to Nazis where they were burned in offices. That’s anti-Semitic?” Greene said.
“No, talking about George Soros being a Jew, comparing him to Nazis?” Gray asked Greene.
“I’m sorry. Anybody that turns over their own people to be burned in ovens is a horrible person,” Greene said.
“Are you saying George Soros is turning over his own people to be burned in ovens? I don’t understand?” Gray asked Greene.
“Listen, I’m not going to play twist-the-words game with you,” Greene said.
“That’s not a twist-the-words. I don’t understand. I’d like you to explain it?” Gray asked Greene.
“No, you clearly are trying to twist words with me,” Greene said.
“I’m reading your own statement back to you, ma’am,” Gray said.
Greene said reporters twist her words. We have posted the full and unedited interview with Greene below for transparency.
The Anti-Defamation League calls those statements anti-Semitic. It says she’s referring to false, debunked conspiracy theories that claim Soros, a Holocaust survivor who was only 14 years old at the end of World War II, was a Nazi collaborator.
Channel 2 Action News political analyst Bill Crane told Gray that this is not a normal runoff election.
“These national and statewide figures coming out and endorsing in a primary here is pretty rare?” Gray asked Crane.
“It’s very rare, and it also says the person they are speaking out against or not speaking in favor of is in the extreme,” Crane said.
Greene told Gray that reporters treat her unfairly. But in our interview, Gray simply asked her about her video messages, such as the one posted by Politico in 2018 right after two Muslim women were first elected to Congress.
“We have an Islamic invasion into our government offices,” Greene said in the video.
“If people are believers and followers of Sharia law, that doesn’t go along with our constitution, and it makes it impossible for them to truly serve and uphold our constitution base on their beliefs,” Greene told Gray.
“Are you saying members of Congress are believers in Sharia law?” Gray asked Greene.
“You tell me,” Greene said.
Gray said it was often hard to get a straight answer out of Greene. Gray asked Greene about KOCHPAC, which is demanding Greene to return their donation.
A spokesman for KOCHPAC sent a statement, saying, “We do not condone such harmful and divisive rhetoric.”
“Well, you know they donated to my campaign, so I don’t know what they are talking about,” Greene said.
“Well, they say they want that money back,” Gray said.
“I don’t know what they are talking about,” Greene said.
Greene also received support from President Donald Trump after her primary victory.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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