The Jolt: The Twitter storm from Georgia’s QAnon candidate

Cobb car wash put up billboard linking business to QAnon conspiracy
Cobb car wash put up billboard linking business to QAnon conspiracy

Within the space of a few hours after she clinched the GOP nomination for the 14th District congressional seat, QAnon theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene had a reporter ousted from her celebration, chased a teenager off Twitter, and called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “bitch.”

But Greene was only getting started on Wednesday.

In a spurt of Twitter messages, very much in the manner of President Donald Trump, Greene mocked her Democratic opponent’s appearance, got into a spat with a former GOP senator, and fired a volley at CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

The GOP candidate also passed along an racially volatile account of a Black man who had been arrested in the shooting death of a white 5-year-old boy in North Carolina -- “...as black-on-white terror sweeps the nation,” the article alleged.

Greene’s reward was an increase in her Twitter following, from 62,000 on Wednesday to 82,000 this morning.

At least one GOP member of the Congress that Greene is likely to join condemned her ideology, but not the candidate herself on Wednesday. The Twitter message from U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois:

Qanon is a fabrication. This “insider" has predicted so much incorrectly (but people don't remember PAST predictions) so now has switched to vague generalities. Could be Russian propaganda or a basement dweller. Regardless, no place in Congress for these conspiracies.

Then there was freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman, a Virginia Republican who was ousted in June by a far-right conservative, after officiating at a gay wedding.

“If she’s the future of the Republican party, we’re in trouble,” he told Politico. “QAnon is the mental gonorrhea of conspiracy theories. It’s disgusting and you want to get rid of it as fast as possible.”

The only critical GOP figure with whom Greene engaged was former Arizona senator Jeff Flake, who Tweeted:

If the GOP wants to be a relevant political force in the future, it cannot endorse those who embrace QAnon and other conspiracy theories.

Replied Greene:

You literally lost your mind and your senate seat because of the russiagate conspiracy theory. I don't think the GOP needs to take any lessons from you, Snowflake.

For the uninitiated, QAnon is an internet-based, far-right conspiracy theory alleging a secret plot by alleged "deep state" players within the federal government against Trump and his supporters. Adherents also falsely accuse Democratic politicians, and high-ranking government officials, of participating in an international pedophile ring.

"There's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it," Greene said in 2017.

Closer to home on Wednesday, Greene was showered with support by some Republicans who had earlier distanced themselves from her because of her QAnon postings, plus remarks that some Republicans in the U.S. House had termed bigoted and racist.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins -- Republican rivals in the special election -- both quickly issued endorsements of Greene after staying on the sidelines during the race.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, meanwhile, stayed mum.

Top Democratic candidates in contests for the two seats took note.

“A radical anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist is now the GOP nominee for a Republican-held Congressional seat in Georgia,” said Jon Ossoff, who is facing Perdue in November.

He added that Perdue “refuses to denounce her and still refuses to apologize to Georgia’s Jewish community for his own anti-Semitic attack ad, which lengthened my nose.”

Raphael Warnock, one of 20 candidates challenging Loeffler, offered a similar take.

“National Republicans have condemned Marjorie Taylor Greene’s disturbing racist and anti-semitic views, but Sen. Loeffler and Rep. Collins are proudly standing with her,” he said. “Georgia needs a Senator who will bring everyone together, and that’s what our campaign is about.”

***

Rich Lowry is the editor of the conservative National Review. Over at Politico.com, he writes that QAnon is “a kind of free-floating John Birch Society for the digital age.”

In fact, it is easy to forget that the northwest corner of Georgia, which provides much of the geography of the 14th District, was fertile ground for the KKK back in the day. “Impeach Earl Warren” signs flourished on its roadsides during the fight over integration.

Larry McDonald, a strong Bircher, represented much of the area until his death in 1983.

But Lowry also makes this point: “The spread of QAnon shows that the Trump-era GOP has weakened antibodies against kookery.”

Its infiltration of the GOP mainstream has already caught one Georgia congressman off guard. On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, attended a “Save the Children” rally that was promoted by a QAnon supporter.

People wore QAnon clothing items to the Savannah event, held signs with QAnon slogans and shared QAnon talking points during their speeches.

Carter said he attended only because he supported the greater cause, which was bringing awareness to the issue of human sex trafficking. The congressman said he has no ties to and is not a supporter of QAnon, nor did he know the conspiracy theorists had been using these rallies to spread their message.

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One last note on Marjorie Taylor Greene: The candidate now faces a lawsuit from a mortgage company that has accused her of spreading lies about a former employee’s termination.

Atlanta’s Equity Prime Mortgage has accused Greene and Melissa Rolfe of defamation after both claimed publicly that Rolfe was fired from the company because her stepson was the Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in June. The company says the women knew Rolfe was terminated for other reasons.

***

Last week, without naming a date certain, Gov. Brian Kemp served notice that he intended to call a special session of the Legislature -- perhaps just as legislators are scrambling for a November campaign.

House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, hostile to the idea, immediately said their first order of business in said session would be to override one of the governor’s vetoes. We will say more about this in the days ahead, but you can always get a good feel of internal debates at the state Capitol from memos written by lawyers.

On Wednesday evening, House officials -- with the concurrence of others in the Senate -- released a memo written by Richard Ruskell, counsel to the General Assembly. It was addressed to Spiro Amburn, Ralston’s chief of staff, and John Porter, top aide to Duncan.

The question was whether the Legislature would need the governor's permission to take up a veto in a special session. Read the entire thing here, but here are a few paragraphs:

...In the case of bills that are vetoed by the Governor following the adjournment of the General Assembly sine die, which is the case here, subparagraph (d) provides in pertinent part that:

“All bills and resolutions vetoed ... after the General Assembly has adjourned sine die may be considered at the next session of the General Assembly for the purpose of overriding the veto in the manner herein provided."

I believe there's a strong argument that the General Assembly must consider a veto override during a special session if it's the “next" session. “Session" used alone, given the context, should be read to mean regular or special. Would you not run a risk by not trying to override a veto in a special session and then have the “next session" argument foreclose bringing it up in the next regular session? Assuming that no special session will be held prior to such time, the General Assembly could take up a veto override at the 2021 regular session.

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Jason Anavitarte might owe Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan a thank-you note for his apparent narrow GOP runoff victory over Boyd Austin in the contest to replace state Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen. The lieutenant governor’s PAC pumped about $250,000 into Anavitarte’s bid. He’s currently up by about 200 votes - a 1% margin.

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U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, is airing her first campaign ad ahead of the November general election, a spot titled “Moms on a Mission.” Her team said the ad will run in metro Atlanta via a six-figure buy. McBath faces Republican Karen Handel in the Sixth District contest.

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Nearly 200 members of the U.S. House have signed a letter asking Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to reverse changes that have been blamed for slowing down mail delivery across the country.

“The House is seriously concerned that you are implementing policies that accelerate the crisis at the Postal Service, including directing Post Offices to no longer treat all election mail as First Class,” the letter signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 172 other members said. “If implemented now, as the election approaches, this policy will cause further delays to election mail that will disenfranchise voters and put significant financial pressure on election jurisdictions.”

U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop and David Scott of Georgia are among the signatories, who are all Democrats. The letter asks DeJoy to provide documentation about the changes made and any impact they might have on mail-in balloting ahead of the general election.

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A story in The Fulcrum the other day caught our eye, featuring a quote from Democracy in Color founder Steve Phillips questioning why Jon Ossoff was featured at a recent California fundraiser but Raphael Warnock wasn’t. From the piece:

"The rhetoric is easy," says Phillips. "But doing the hard work to actually move the resources" is much harder. "Are we going to balance out the financial playing field here, or not?"

He noted that a Bay Area fundraiser scheduled for Tuesday, which will divvy receipts between several Democratic Senate candidates, showcased the white man running for Senate in Georgia — Democrat John Ossoff, who will face Republican incumbent David Perdue this fall — but not the Black candidate, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is running the same day in an all-candidate special election for the state's other Senate seat.

“It's reflective of the blinders that white gatekeepers have," says Phillips. Still, he noted that a recent philanthropic outpouring will steer literally hundreds of millions to groups run by people of color.

Again, Warnock isn’t the only African-American Democrat in that contest. Ed Tarver of Augusta, the former state senator and federal prosecutor, is also a candidate.

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