- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is one of the most contentious new figures in Congress.
- Republicans and Democrats in her district say she'll face a tough reelection challenge in 2022.
- But she will be hard to beat with her fundraising skills and ability to rile up constituents.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the firebrand new Republican in Congress, is likely to face threats from both parties when she runs for reelection next year, political leaders in her district say.
Insider spoke with Republican and Democratic leaders in Georgia's 14th congressional district after a rash of scandals put Greene in the national spotlight and resulted in the House of Representatives voting to remove her from committees earlier this month.
Greene was highly scrutinized even before winning her seat in Congress in November, thanks to her connections to the QAnon conspiracy-theory movement and ardent support of false election-fraud claims. More recently, she faced backlash for her past support for social-media posts advocating for the execution of Democrats and claiming the Parkland school shooting was staged.
Greene's behavior has made her a target for Democratic upstarts in her district, as well as challengers within her own party, which is grappling with whether to accept or shun the faction of Trumpist Republicans that Greene typifies.
A dozen Democrats are already planning to run in Greene's district in 2022, 11 Alive reported, but in this ultraconservative corner of Georgia, the best bet of kicking Greene out of office will likely come from within her own party, local leaders said.
"The next Republican primary is going to be a bloodbath," David Boyle, the Democratic Party chair of Walker County, told Insider. "The middle-of-the-road traditional Republicans are tired of all of this craziness. They're going to put out strong candidates."
Luke Martin, the Republican Party chair of Floyd County, said he "would be shocked" if Greene "didn't receive a primary challenger."
Two kinds of conservatives
A combination of factors helped Greene win Georgia's 14th congressional district.
Greene had an advantage in that she initially ran for another Georgia congressional district, and started fundraising months before Rep. Tom Graves, the incumbent for the 14th, announced he was retiring in December 2019.
So when she switched races to the 14th, she wasn't starting from scratch like the eight other Republicans in the primary. She used that cash advantage to buy ad time around the district and become a well-known name.
The June primary boiled down to an August runoff between Greene and Dr. John Cowan, a neurosurgeon whom Greene beat handedly. Shiflett said there's evidence that Greene's victory had to do with name recognition: Cowan won in his home county, but Greene won everywhere else.
She then ran unopposed in the November general election because the Democratic candidate, Kevin Van Ausdal, dropped out after his wife filed for divorce and he moved back in with his parents in Indiana. But it's unlikely that his staying in the race would have made any difference in such a firmly conservative district.
Heading into Greene's 2022 reelection, the local politicians said a similar dynamic would probably play out in the next GOP primary, where Greene could be challenged by a traditional conservative.
"I would be very surprised if some more established Republican doesn't take another shot in the primary," said Vincent Olsziewski, who ran Van Ausdal's campaign.
Despite the scandals that put her into the national spotlight, Darrell Galloway, the Republican Party chair for the 14th congressional district, said Greene will "be very hard to beat."
"Her voters are very supportive and they're going to come out and vote. You're going to have to find someone to motivate people to come out and vote as strongly as her voters do," he said.
Reuters recently interviewed three dozen Republican-leaning voters in the district, who for the most part said they would vote for her again.
There are signs that Greene's base is only growing. Greene told the Washington Examiner on February 3 - as the GOP leadership faced calls to remove her from Congress - that she raised over $300,000 from more than 10,000 donors in the previous week.
Democrats like their chances
If she wins the 2022 Republican primary, Democrats are hopeful they'll have a better shot at challenging Greene.
There's "a lot of people coming forward, talking about challenging" Greene, Shiflett said.
"In the past, we've had to settle for maybe one person to run in this district, because they're basically acting as sacrificial lambs," he added. "Thanks to Marjorie Taylor Greene, that's not going to happen anymore. She will be running against quality opposition."
However, of the Democrats who have announced runs so far, Olsziewski doesn't think he's seen a candidate who can pull off an upset yet.
"But it's early. It's only February. I think the right candidate can give Marjorie a run for her money," he said.
Tom McMahan, the Dade County Democratic Party chair, said he thinks a significant number of Republicans will switch sides if Greene is the Republican nominee in 2022.
He said the Democrats would need about a third of Republicans in the district to switch sides to pull off an upset - and "that's possible given the fact she's the candidate."
That is, if she even manages to keep her seat until 2022, McMahan said.
"Right now, I'm not sure she's going to make it two years," he said. "The woman does not seem to have any shame about her ... My sense of the situation is when you have someone like her, there's always something else."