Everyone has had a co-worker who aggravates them, who posts on social media constantly and keeps on forcing awkward conversations about conspiracy theories. But what happens when your office is the House of Representatives? That’s the challenge for the 434 other members of Congress, who now have to spend the next two years working alongside Marjorie Taylor Greene.
“Whenever I see her in the Capitol, she is trailed by staffers with cell-phone videos rolling as she spews her stream of consciousness for social media followers. It is the show all the time,” said Representative Jared Huffman, a California Democrat.
“I’m sure [other members] are really nice to her, but as for me I haven’t said a word to her, and I don’t really care to,” said Adam Kinzinger, a Republican Trump critic from Illinois who has engaged online with Greene.
Marie Newman, a Democrat and fellow freshman from Illinois, has also tried to avoid any interaction with Greene, whose office is across the hallway in the Longworth House Office Building. Last month, Greene delayed a vote on LGBTQ-rights legislation in order to attract attention to her opposition to the bill, and in response Newman — who has a transgender daughter — put a transgender-rights flag outside her doorway.
Then, with cameras rolling, Greene put a sign outside her own office reading, “There are TWO genders: Male & Female. Trust The Science!” and attacked Newman on Twitter, intentionally misgendering Newman’s daughter.
“It’s textbook antisocial behavior,” she said, adding that Republicans have confided in her that they are “horrified at her behavior.”
Republicans have been nervous since the infamous “Qanon Congresswoman” burst onto the political scene last summer after winning the GOP nomination in a safe red district in Georgia and drew national attention for her racist statements and embrace of conspiracy theories, such as that the Parkland school shooting was a hoax and a Jewish space laser is starting wildfires in California. She doubled down on Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election during the Senate runoffs in Georgia and has been blamed for contributing to the low Republican turnout that handed both seats and the Senate majority to Democrats. However, they thought she would tone things down when she arrived on Capitol Hill. The opposite has happened. The former owner of a Crossfit gym has kept on chasing the endorphins that can only come from other people clicking the tiny thumbs-up and heart buttons on their screens.
Comments emerged in which Greene expressed support for killing Pelosi. In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, that was enough for Democrats to take the unprecedented step of stripping her of her committee assignments over the opposition of Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy.
As an everlasting fount of outrageous remarks and comments, she is a gift to Democrats. Greene provokes outrage in ways almost calculated to alienate suburban swing voters while getting the MSNBC-watching faithful to open their wallets for Democrats — who have already boasted about trying to make Greene and QAnon the center of the 2022 midterms.
What Greene hasn’t done is challenge her own party’s leaders, like McCarthy. Unlike the disruptive class of tea-party freshmen from ten years ago, Greene has not confronted the party Establishment. She has already paid her dues to the National Republican Campaign Committee, filling the coffers of the party committee that is funding McCarthy’s efforts to win the majority next year. The attacks she has made on fellow Republicans have been on Twitter and limited to those who have criticized Donald Trump, such as Liz Cheney and Kinzinger. Greene’s ideological agenda seems to have been summed up in a tweet earlier this week in which she described former President Donald Trump as “the leader of the Republican Party” and warned, “All of you traitor RINO’s prepare for reckoning.”
It is not impossible, even in the era of Trump, for Republicans to oust a member of Congress with a history of inflammatory and racist remarks. Steve King, a nine-term congressman from Iowa, eventually lost his primary race in 2020 as national Republicans and conservative groups rallied behind his opponent. King had been removed from his committee assignments after asking a New York Times reporter, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” (Unlike with Greene, McCarthy stripped King of his valuable committee assignments without Democrats having to force an unprecedented floor vote.) Still, the obstacles to successfully primarying an incumbent, no matter how extreme, are significant.
“If you start calling someone like Steve King a racist, for people who have voted for him nine times, you’re kinda calling them a racist. It’s never good,” said David Kochel, the veteran Republican strategist who helped guide King’s Republican opponent, Randy Feenstra, to victory.
The key difference why Republicans rallied to oust King is that he had become vulnerable in a general election. King represented a district that Trump had won by 27 points in 2016, but two years later, the scandal-plagued Republican barely managed to scrape through with a three-point win. It’s hard to see Greene losing one of the most Republican districts in the country, although Democrats are already lining up to run against her, if only for the free press. “You won’t have the opportunity to make that case effectively [with Greene] because she won handily and we don’t have a good record of her really underperforming the ballot,” said Kochel.
Even if her district gets chopped up in redistricting by legislators who see her antics as a drag on their prospects in the Republican-controlled but increasingly purple state, Greene was a carpetbagger to begin with. She moved 60 miles from her suburban Atlanta home to run in the Northwest Georgia district — her appeal was not based on longstanding ties to her constituents but simply as a bomb-thrower with a personal fortune to spend. Already, John Cowan who lost the primary to Greene last year is contemplating challenging her.
The question may be how long she can keep up her shtick before voters tire of it.
“I have never met anybody who came out a rock star as a freshman and is still around and is still even talked about,” said Kinzinger. For many Republicans across the party, that day can’t come soon enough. “This should, hopefully, be the last profile ever written about her,” one griped.