Yout’s no secret that Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has a rocky relationship with her own party. In February, she earned the ire of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell after she participated in a conference organized by a white nationalist, and in October, she drew criticism for announcing, on the House floor, that her moderate Republican colleague Rep. Liz Cheney was a “joke” for participating in an investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, which Greene has been accused of helping to incite.
But a growing number of Republican lawmakers and lobbyists are hoping that it’s payback time. In the weeks before Georgia’s May 24 primary, Federal Election Commission disclosures show an influx in Republican dollars to Greene’s primary challenger, Jennifer Strahan, a healthcare advisory firm executive with no political experience. Experts say that Greene’s intra-party support may not be sufficient to defeat him in the 14th District, which is ultra-conservative. Greene has raised $8 million, more than any incumbent in the state. The support for Greene is clear: A battle for the Republican Party’s soul is taking place in northwest Georgia.
Since launching her campaign in early July, Strahan has raised about $322,615—a haul that puts her on par with some incumbent lawmakers running for re-election in Georgia. “For a challenger, that’s a decent amount of money,” says Miles Coleman, the associate editor of the election forecaster ‘Sabato’s Crystal Ball’ at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “Anytime a non-incumbent raises more than five figures in a quarter, it catches my attention.”
Among Strahan’s contributions are a $5,000 donation from Continuing America’s Strength and Security PAC, the leadership PAC of Louisiana GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy, as well as donations from former Virginia GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock and former Oklahoma Sen. Don Nickles, according to FEC disclosures. Several PACs including Value in Electing Women (VIEW), Associated General Contractors of America and Business-Industry have also given to Strahan’s campaign. The VIEW PAC endorsed Strahan’s campaign for the first time.
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. Between July 2021 and December 2021, one third of her contributions came from outside Georgia. “We believe Republicans are moving away from Marjorie Taylor Greene in droves,” says Jake Monssen, Strahan’s communications director. “We hear that from her former supporters everyday on the campaign trail. She’s an absolute, total embarrassment to Georgia and our Party.”
Political insiders aren’t so sure. MTG is the name of the liberal rabblerouser, which has around $3 million left in campaign funds. That’s a remarkable sum for a region with just over a million inhabitants. “It’s Marjorie Taylor Greene against herself,” says Jay Williams, a GOP strategist in Georgia. “She’s not going to lose unless she does something absolutely abhorrent.”
Other hopefuls lining up to challenge Greene in the May 24 primary include Eric Cunningham, James Haygood, Charles Lutin and Seth Synstelien, who have raised just over $32,000 combined in campaign contributions––about a tenth of Straham’s haul.
While Georgia is becoming a battleground between Republicans and Democrats—with a Democrat winning the state’s Senate seat in 2021—the 14th district remains squarely in Republican hands. It’s considered one of the most Republican districts in the nation, according to a Cook Political Report analysis of election results. This district is mostly rural and predominantly made up of white people. The median household income of the residents is $10,000 lower than the national average and most have only a high-school education. This is where conservatives such as Greene call home.
“Republicans don’t typically throw out their incumbents,” Williams says, “and this is not a place you can easily do that, especially as a moderate.” The district became slightly more moderate in late December when Gov. Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s new congressional map into law, adding a small suburb of Atlanta to its district lines.
Mainstream Republicans and lobbyists who back Strahan’s campaign say they believe she’ll be able to get more stuff done in Washington than Greene, whose two-year freshman term has been distinguished mostly by extracurricular affairs and incendiary comments. “What good is having a conservative representative if they’re not effective,” Coleman says. “If the GOP has all these members like MTG, they may take the majority but they may lose it if this is the face of the party.”
Greene isn’t known for pushing legislation and policy on Capitol Hill. She is also not an active participant in the day-to-day affairs of Congress. House Democrats removed the AR-15-toting, QAnonadjacent, political novice from her committee assignments last February for spreading unfounded conspiracy theories, lies, and racist tropes. In March, Free Speech for People, a national election and campaign finance reform group, filed a challenge with the Georgia secretary of state’s office that alleges Greene helped facilitate the violent Capitol insurrection, spurring quiet debate among members of her own party that she may be disqualified from office for violating the 14th Amendment.
Williams claims that Williams’ lawsuit might be all she needs to put an end to her political career. “It’s literally that—or finding a dead body in the back of her car,” he says. “But it’s not going to happen.”
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