House Republicans are raising concerns that a controversial candidate’s primary win in Georgia could hurt the party in other races, with some saying GOP leaders should have done more to defeat Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Greene handily won a runoff Tuesday against neurosurgeon John Cowan, taking 60 percent of the vote, and is now poised to succeed outgoing Rep. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesGeorgia businesswoman launches primary challenge against Greene Lobbying world Greene's future on House committees in limbo after GOP meeting MORE (R) in the GOP-leaning district.
She has a history of offensive remarks about Blacks, Jews and Muslims, including a statement that if she were Black, she’d be “proud” to see a Confederate monument because it would show the progress since the Civil War.
Greene has compared Democratic donor George Soros to a Nazi, asserted that African Americans “are held slaves to the Democratic Party,” likened the 2018 midterms that flipped the House to Democratic control as being like an “Islamic invasion of our government” and most recently fundraised over her remarks calling House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight On The Money — Senate Democrats lay out their tax plans Democrats haggle as deal comes into focus Dem hopes for infrastructure vote hit brick wall MORE (D-Calif.) a “bitch” who should be kicked out of Congress.
She has also embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory involving a global cabal of government officials and celebrities controlling the government and other institutions and running a child sex-trafficking ring. “Q is a patriot,” Green said in a video posted to YouTube, referring to the purported anonymous government official who posts information about the supposed conspiracy.
To many House Republicans, Greene is a liability whose remarks will be used against other GOP candidates, according to multiple GOP House lawmakers and aides.
“It is a really ugly outcome -- an embarrassment for our party. And [it is] unfortunate our party leadership did not address that issue,” one GOP lawmaker told The Hill.
GOP leaders denounced Greene’s public remarks earlier this year, with a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyJuan Williams: Trump is killing American democracy Republican spin on Biden is off the mark Cheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member MORE (R-Calif.) calling them appalling.
Yet while House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — US cracks down on tools for foreign hacking House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure MORE (R-La.) actively backed Cowan by holding a fundraiser and maxing out his contribution, McCarthy and other leaders didn’t take stronger actions.
Some say that was a big mistake.
“McCarthy is clearly so paranoid about not having the support of the far right for his own Speaker race that he was willing to throw the rest of the conference under the bus by backing this woman and now making everyone else have to answer for her,” one GOP aide said.
GOP lawmakers were much less scathing in their remarks, even while speaking anonymously.
“[I] would agree with that about leadership [needing to do more] but ultimately it is up to the people to decide and for individual candidates to either step up or be held to account,” one GOP lawmaker said.
President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE is now offering Greene support, further complicating matters for House Republicans.
“Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent,” the president tweeted Wednesday morning. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up - a real WINNER!”
Later on Wednesday, a Trump campaign official called out Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerIllinois redistricting proposal creates new Hispanic seat, sets up member-vs.-member races The 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Cheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member MORE (R-Ill.) for criticizing Greene in an implicit signal to the rest of the conference.
“When will @RepKinzinger condemn the Steele Dossier fabrications and conspiracy theories pushed by Democrats?” Matt Wolking, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, wrote, adding, “That actually WAS Russian propaganda.”
Some Republicans said they were particularly frustrated with McCarthy, both because he is the leader of the conference and because they said he assured Cowan “help is on the way” and that he was “100 percent behind” him during a phone call on July 29.
The promised resources never arrived, according to two sources familiar with the discussion.
“Two weeks ago he told Dr. Cowan, ‘I'm solidly with you,’” one source familiar with the call said. “There was follow up with his staff the next day that didn't go anywhere. ... He went neutral.”
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the call.
Earlier, a spokesman for McCarthy said the leader looked forward to Greene and other GOP candidates “winning in November so that we can enact policies to renew the American dream, restore our way of life, and rebuild the greatest economy in the world.”
A handful of members and aides raised concerns that Greene’s rhetoric will lead to similar scandals the conference previously faced with outgoing Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingGOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Pence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' MORE (R-Iowa), who was removed from committees following racist remarks.
Some Republicans did back Greene during the primary.
She received campaign donations from Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanCheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member Garland defends school board memo from GOP 'snitch line' attacks Fight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing MORE (Ohio) and Andy Biggs (Ariz.), both members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Koch Industries donated to Greene's campaign but asked for the money to be returned after her controversial remarks.
“Marjorie may not be the candidate of the establishment or the press but she created a tidal wave among the voters. She’s got my congratulations and support,” said Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Poll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor MORE (R-Ga.), who is running for Senate.
Democrats are certain to try to tie Greene to other Republicans, especially with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day Business lobby calls for administration to 'pump the brakes' on vaccine mandate Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Afghanistan reckoning shows no signs of stopping MORE running neck and neck with Trump in polls of Georgia.
“Georgia Republicans, and Republican candidates running across the country, will have to answer for her hateful views in their own campaigns,” said Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosInfrastructure bill carves out boosts to first responders, wildland firefighters Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms Two senior House Democrats to retire MORE (D-Ill.), the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Republicans are waiting to see how Greene acts once she is in the House.
“I hope she evolves away from such hateful commentary,” said one GOP lawmaker. “Either way, many of us are cautiously watching how she handles her new position.”
This story was updated at 9:01 p.m.