A Democrat has suddenly bowed out of the US House race in Georgia citing “personal reasons,” clearing the path for Republican contender Marjorie Taylor Greene, the alleged QAnon supporter who is now running unopposed.
Kevin Van Ausdal said he would pull out of the contest in a statement on Friday, leaving the race for Georgia’s reliably red 14th Congressional District uncontested, with Greene the only candidate left in the running.
“I am heartbroken to announce that for family and personal reasons, I cannot continue this race for Congress,” Van Ausdal said in a statement, adding that “stepping aside would be best for the voters.”
The next steps in my life are taking me away from Georgia, so I will be disqualified from serving in Congress and will give the Party a chance to put forward a candidate that can carry this fight to the end.
A message from Kevin Van Ausdal pic.twitter.com/Y5LtVcpK2B
— Kevin Van Ausdal (D) (@KevinVanAusdal) September 11, 2020
Greene, who handily defeated neurosurgeon John Cowan in the GOP primary last month, wasted little time before running a victory lap following Van Ausdal’s announcement.
“Best wishes to [Kevin Van Ausdal], who stepped down from the #Ga14 race today,” Greene wrote on Twitter. “As the Congresswoman from NW Georgia, I look forward to fighting for our Christian, American values and helping [President Trump] pass an #AmericaFirst agenda!”
— Marjorie Taylor Greene For Congress🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) September 11, 2020
The conservative businesswoman has courted controversy with a number of statements in support of QAnon conspiracy theories – which, among other things, posit that a cabal of Satanic pedophiles rules the world – as well as comments critics have deemed Islamophobic and anti-Semitic. Though the remarks have drawn attacks even from fellow Republicans, Greene nonetheless secured high-profile endorsements throughout the Congressional race, including from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
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While Van Ausdal’s campaign offered few details about his reasons for stepping down, several supporters have suggested he pulled out of the race due to harassment and “serious death threats” from other members of the QAnon community. A campaign spokesperson quashed the rumors, saying neither Van Ausdal nor his staffers had received any threats. Some remained unconvinced, however, pointing to a statement from the campaign noting that the candidate “is safe.”
“…and Kevin is safe.”
were you not safe?
— HG Tomato 🍅 Wash Your Hands (@HGTomato) September 11, 2020
Running in a reliably Republican district in the Deep South, Van Ausdal’s campaign was something of a longshot, but his resignation nonetheless surprised fellow Democrats, with Cathy Griffith, the chair of the Catoosa County party, stating she “didn’t know about it until this morning.”
Though the Democratic Party of Georgia said it intends to “name a replacement as soon as possible,” state law may preclude that possibility, as it sets a 60-day deadline for replacement candidates in the case of a withdrawal. As of Friday, there were just 53 days left until the election, leaving it unclear how the party will proceed.
Van Ausdal’s sudden pull-out came just hours before Georgia Republican Tom Graves announced that he would not finish out his term, saying he would retire early next month. Graves, who currently holds the same seat in Georgia’s 14th District sought by Greene, previously said he would not run for re-election. With Van Ausdal’s withdrawal and a chance that no Democrat will replace him, Greene is all but assured victory come November.
🚨Georgia GOP Rep. TOM GRAVES stepping down. Wasn’t seeking re-election. But won’t even stick it out till January. pic.twitter.com/Is9aFFyjvT
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) September 11, 2020
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