Lookout Mountain, Georgia, US — As Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene faces bipartisan condemnation for her unapologetic embrace of conspiracy theories, her supporters back home say she is doing what they sent her to Washington to do.
“She went to Washington to take a stand for the American people. We’re proud of her,” said Dianne Putnam, chair of the Republican Party in Georgia’s Whitfield County. “We love her. We voted her in. We stand with her.”
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Greene’s district, comprising 12 counties tucked into the northwest corner of Georgia, is home to some of the state’s most conservative voters.
Although Georgians statewide supported Democrat Joe Biden for president and awarded Democrats with two Senate seats, the counties in Greene’s district overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump and Republicans. Trump made multiple visits to this Republican stronghold, both during his re-election campaign and to support the Republican candidates in the Senate runoff elections last month.
Greene won her election in November with support from nearly 75 percent of voters.
On Tuesday, 16 Republican leaders from the district co-signed a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in support of Greene.
“We believe Marjorie Greene has been targeted because she is a conservative that represents conservatives like us and those across the district,” the letter, signed by members of the District 14 Republican Committee, read. “We ask you for your support for our choice in the 14th district of Georgia.”
Although she’s a first-term lawmaker a few weeks into the job, Greene has taken the spotlight in Washington for promoting conspiracy theories and allegedly approving of calls for violence against elected Democrats.
Greene has voiced support of the debunked QAnon theory that certain high-ranking Democrats are part of a ring of Satan-worshipping paedophiles. She has spoken approvingly of the false notion that some school shootings that left dozens of children dead were faked. And before being elected to office, Greene “liked” Facebook comments that suggested firing “a bullet to the head” of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and stripping her of power “through removal or death”.
In a statement to CNN, Greene blamed the “teams of people” who she said managed her social media pages for those posts.
In response, Democrats are moving quickly against Greene. Pelosi has called her views “appalling” and urged Republicans to rein her in. Last week California Democratic Representative Jimmy Gomez called for a vote to remove Greene from office, an unlikely outcome.
Republicans have not been silent. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, called her views a “cancer for the Republican Party”.
“Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” McConnell told The Hill newspaper.
“This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”
Greene rebuked McConnell’s remarks on her Twitter account, saying: “The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully. This is why we are losing our country.”
The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.
This is why we are losing our country.
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) February 2, 2021
The embattled congresswoman has exploited her disagreements with colleagues and the media as a part of an aggressive fundraising scheme. Greene claims she has raised $1.6m in just the past few weeks.
Under pressure from both parties, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, huddled with Greene privately in his Capitol Hill office Tuesday night.
According to Politico, McCarthy urged her to denounce the QAnon conspiracy theory and apologise for supporting violence against House colleagues and said she could voluntarily step down from her committee posts. Otherwise, he warned, she would likely be stripped of her committee positions by a House vote as soon as Thursday.
“If Democrats remove me from my committees, I can assure them that the precedent they are setting will be used extensively against members on their side once we regain the majority after the 2022 elections,” Greene wrote on Twitter in response.
Greene’s expulsion from her committee seats would have negative effects on her ability to promote her district’s interests. Without an ability to contribute or vote in committees, the move would leave Greene with only the power to vote on the House floor, stripping her of opportunities to substantially influence policy.
Still, Republican leaders from her district expressed support for Greene, despite her rhetoric.
“The general feeling around the district is that it’s none of DC’s business,” said Darrell Galloway, Republican Party chairman of Georgia’s 14th congressional district. “People in the district who have talked to me have all felt like it seems [Washington] DC is trying to silence the votes of the people. The reports back that I’m getting from everyone is that they’re liking the job she’s doing.”
Greene’s controversial rhetoric has already led to calls to find a primary challenger when she faces re-election next year.
Dr John Cowan, a Georgia neurosurgeon who lost to her in the 2020 Republican primary, said he is considering launching another run.
“My wife and I are certainly discussing it,” Cowan told Al Jazeera. “It’s not a decision we’re going to make lightly.”
Long before Greene’s more incendiary comments were widely known, Cowan warned that she could be a problem. During last year’s primary, his campaign called her “unhinged” and “detached from reality”.
His warnings fell largely on deaf ears; Greene beat Cowan by nearly 20 percentage points.
“This was predictable pain,” Cowan said. “It really is a wrecking ball to the Republican Party at this point.”
Cowan says he thinks that support for her could lessen during her tenure in office, especially as she remains combative in responding to her critics.
“Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, she refuses to say, ‘I was wrong,’ Cowan said. “That’s going to wear thin.”
It’s unlikely Greene ever will.
“I won’t back down,” Greene said on Twitter Saturday. “I’ll never apologize.”