The Democrat running against Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, the controversial Georgia congressional candidate who made racist and Islamophobic comments and expressed support for QAnon conspiracy theories, announced Friday he is withdrawing from the race, leaving Greene virtually unopposed in the general election.
Kevin Van Ausdal, the Democratic nominee, cited “personal and family reasons that prevent me from continuing on as a candidate.” Van Ausdal said he would be leaving the state.
The open seat in northwest Georgia heavily favors Republicans, and Van Ausdal had very little chance of winning in November. But his exit leaves Greene with a completely unimpeded path to Congress.
“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,” Van Ausdal said in a statement.
The state Democratic Party called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to officially disqualify Van Ausdal from the ballot and allow them to name a new nominee in an expedited process — much like they did in the state’s 5th District after Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) died in July.
It is unclear if Raffensperger, a Republican, will honor that request. Georgia election law dictates that a vacancy created by the “withdrawal of a candidate less than 60 days prior to the date of the election shall not be filled.”
The secretary of state’s office hadn’t received any formal withdrawal request from Van Ausdal as of Friday afternoon and declined to comment further.
Van Ausdal’s departure further upends what should have been a relatively uninteresting race for the deep-red congressional seat.
In June, House GOP leaders raced to disavow Greene after POLITICO uncovered hours of videos she taped making racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic comments. Yet they did little to block her victory in the August GOP primary runoff against neurosurgeon John Cowan.
Greene’s primary victory roiled the House Republican conference, some members have openly objected to her joining their ranks. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said she will be seated and placed on committees if she wins the general election.
President Donald Trump carried the district by 53 points in 2016. The incumbent, GOP Rep. Tom Graves, announced his retirement last year and said Friday he will resign his seat soon, before the end of his term in early January.