Aficionados of political craziness may have felt a bit sad today with the news that former Georgia congressman Paul Broun Jr. failed in his comeback bid in the June 9 primary. Broun gained fame as the House Science Committee member who called evolution “a lie straight from the pit of hell.” He also once killed and ate a lion on safari. His 2020 campaign, in a crowded Ninth District GOP primary triggered by incumbent Doug Collins’s decision to challenge appointed Senator Kelly Loeffler from the Trump-loving right, featured an online ad in which Broun stalked around holding an assault rifle — or as the ad labeled it, a “liberty machine” — and pledged to mow down “looting hordes from Atlanta” (this being long before the George Floyd protests).
Alas, Broun finished fourth, but the top vote-getter, state legislator Matt Gurtler, has shown some willingness to walk on the wild side himself. Aside from the fact that he is a Ron Paul acolyte who enjoys voting against things like Alzheimer’s research, Gurtler decided to show up earlier this year at an event held by a white-supremacist organization (or as Gurtler called it, a “pro-gun, conservative group that supports President Trump”). The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the uproar:
A Georgia state representative running for Congress is facing criticism from across the political spectrum for a photo showing him alongside a longtime white supremacist activist from Dahlonega [a town in the 9th district].
The photo shows Rep. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, with Chester Doles, a Georgia man with longstanding ties to numerous white supremacist organizations, including the National Alliance and Hammerskins, a racist skinhead gang. It was taken earlier this year at a meeting of American Patriots USA, a group founded by Doles last year in an attempt to appeal to more mainstream conservatives in the region.
Gurtler is in an August 11 runoff with businessman Andrew Clyde, who fits right into the North Georgia Republican scene. He’s a firearms distributor (specializing in sales to law-enforcement agencies) who styles himself a crusader against the “corrupt” IRS and poses on his campaign web page with a shooting iron and the slogan: “Standing Up to Big Government.”
But for top-shelf, Broun-style extremism, you have to look across the mountains to Northwest Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, where Marjorie Greene was the top vote-getter yesterday for a safe Republican seat being vacated by retiring Representative Tom Graves. Greene also posed with Chester Doles, who called her “our friend,” and labeled her as “part of the Q movement.” And that’s the central source of her fame, as Daily Kos Elections explains:
Greene has repeatedly used social media to spread far-right lies about the 2017 Las Vegas massacre as well as defend the notorious pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon. Among other things, Greene has encouraged her followers to send her any questions about QAnon so she could “walk you through the whole thing.”
Greene has quite the rep, as Open Secrets observes:
The Southern Poverty Law Center put Marjorie Greene on their hate-watch list because of her anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric on Facebook, as well as her ties to known militia groups, including the Three Percenters.
Her ads are in the Broun tradition, but even more violent. So violent that one was taken down by Facebook:
Greene’s opponent, neurosurgeon John Cowan, has an ad of his own in which he packs heat while dressed up as a border-patrol agent to dramatize his support for Trump’s wall, then fires an assault weapon. But he doesn’t have that mad, Michele Bachmann–style gleam in the eye that Greene does, and he uses his liberty machine to blow up a COVID-19 model, not “socialism” or “the Green New Deal” like his rival does in another of her insane ads.
Greene more than doubled Cowan’s vote total in the primary, so she has to be the favorite in August. Since the 14th is the tenth most-Republican district in America, she would then drive her crazy train straight to Washington, possibly with Matt Gurtler shoveling coal. Extremism is alive and well in North Georgia, folks.