A Democratic candidate for a Georgia congressional district, who was running against a Republican who has posted racist messages and voiced support for the, has announced that he is dropping out of the race. The state’s Democratic party is now waiting on Georgia’s Secretary of State office to decide whether they can remove Kevin Van Ausdal’s name from the ballots and replace it with another Democrat.
Van Ausdal said he’s leaving the race for the state’s 14th congressional district due to “personal and family reasons.”
“While I am stepping down from being the face of this fight for the people of Northwest Georgia, we have to carry on. We cannot allow the extremism and divisiveness of Marjorie Taylor Greene to be unchallenged in November,” Van Ausdal said in a statement, adding that he will be leaving the state.
“We thank Mr. Van Ausdal for his service and send him our condolences in this difficult time. We are calling on the Secretary of State to disqualify him from the ballot and allow the DPG to name a replacement as soon as possible,” Georgia Democrats’ communications director Maggie Chambers said in a statement.
The news comes as Representative Tom Graves, the Republican who represents the district in Congress and was not running for reelection, announced he would be leaving Congress immediately and would not serve the rest of his term.
, a businesswoman, defeated neurosurgeon John Cowan in the primary runoff in August in the reliably red northwest Georgia district. President Trump has tweeted his support for her, and she attended President Trump’s Republican National Convention speech outside the White House.
Prior to her victory, Greene used QAnon catchphrases and said its leader, “Q,” is a “patriot” who’s “worth listening to.” QAnon followers believe there is a cabal of pedophiles and Democratic politicians running a child sex trafficking ring and secretly controlling America — and that Mr. Trump is destined to expose them.
QAnon mainly operates on fringe internet forums and through catchphrases and “clues” on social media. QAnon supporters showed up at Trump events in 2018, and have recently attended protests across the country that were ostensibly about child trafficking, NBC News reported.
The FBI considers QAnon a “domestic terrorist threat,” writing in an August 2019 letter that fringe conspiracy movements like QAnon “encourage the targeting of specific people, places, and organizations… increasing the likelihood of violence against these targets.”
Since Greene won her runoff in August, she has been trying to distance herself from QAnon.
“Never once during my campaign did I ever speak about QAnon, or ‘Q,'” she told Fox News. “I had read about a lot of things, I had posted, talked about on video things I had seen on Q. But really, what made me change my mind is as a person that’d worked hard all my life, I chose a different path.”
She claimed she began to doubt QAnon after some in the movement predicted Republicans would hold the House after the 2018 midterms.
She also has a history of racist remarks on social media. According to Politico, she said Black people “are held slaves to the Democratic Party,” called the elections of Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar an “Islamic invasion” and called George Soros a “Nazi.”