About a year ago, I wrote a piece about various right-wing extremists running for Congress in the mountains of North Georgia — ancestral territory for me, but now a veritable burnt-over ground of radical “populist” conservatism. I began by noting that the dean of Georgia congressional wing nuts, Paul Broun Jr., had lost a comeback effort, despite one of the most incendiary ads ever:
The star of the story was Marjorie Taylor Greene, who at that point was in a Republican runoff in a Northwest Georgia district. She went on, of course, to instant infamy in Congress, along with the loss of committee assignments before she even had them and at least two rebukes from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who isn’t exactly a proponent of social justice himself.
But there were other political beasts roaming through the hills last summer, including both runoff candidates for the Northeast Georgia House seat being abandoned by Doug Collins, who was busy savaging Kelly Loeffler in a Senate primary as a RINO swamp creature (a line of attack Loeffler parried in part by securing an endorsement from Greene). The one who got the most attention was state legislator Matt Gurtler, a Ron Paul acolyte who seemed uncomfortably cozy with white supremacists. But the candidate who beat him was gun dealer Andrew Clyde, whose claim to fame was a legal crusade against the IRS (or, as its agents are sometimes known in Appalachia, the “revenuers”). Clyde styled himself as a MAGA bravo, a Second Amendment absolutist, and a proponent of a total no-exceptions ban on abortions. At the same time, without irony, he described himself as someone who was “standing up to big government.” But these being fairly standard Republican positions at the moment, it was not yet clear that the new representative from the Ninth District of Georgia would threaten Marjorie Taylor Greene’s mantle as the most extremist member of his state’s congressional agenda.
Clyde’s getting some attention now. Some of it is over his bizarre lawsuit to fight the screening devices used to keep anyone from carrying weapons into the House chamber, as reported by Roll Call:
Clyde, along with Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican fined $5,000 for circumventing the security screening, filed a lawsuit Sunday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging the House rule that imposes such fines violates the Constitution …
“House Resolution 73 (H.Res. 73) detains members from engaging in their duties to those they represent, in clear violation of Article I of the Constitution, and seeks to fine Republicans, in violation of the 27th Amendment, to gain undue influence over their behavior and to further Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s false political narrative,” Clyde said in a statement Monday.
Perhaps Clyde is thinking of the January 6 attack on Congress in asserting his need for shooting irons on the floor? Certainly not: He has also been very outspoken about the Capitol riot being a “normal tourist visit,” and has demonized the Capitol Police and their conduct on January 6. That meant, most recently, some personal disrespect for a cop severely injured during the insurrection, as Axios reported:
Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) on Wednesday refused to shake hands with D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, who suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury after he was assaulted while protecting the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, Fanone told CNN …
Clyde is among the 21 Republicans who voted against awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to officers who defended the Capitol during the riot.
Also this week, Clyde managed to get decisively to the right of Greene when he became one of 14 House members to oppose the designation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Remarkably, Greene voted for it.
But the irrepressible Greene has already reclaimed her extremist mojo, and on Clyde’s ideological home turf:
Greene also voted against the award for Capitol police, and is engaged in an effort to suggest the FBI was really responsible for turning that innocent rally for election integrity on January 6 into something violent:
Between Greene and Clyde, it’s easy to forget that Georgia’s congressional delegation also includes Jody Hice, Donald Trump’s designated vehicle for purging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for the sin of doing his job and confirming the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state. The first time Hice, a vocal Christian right minister, ran for Congress in 2010, he had a billboard with the legend “Had Enough of Obama’s Change?” with the “C” in “Change” turned into a hammer and sickle.
And who’s in the field to succeed Hice in Congress? None other than Paul Broun Jr. Soon enough, he may pass for a Republican moderate.