Challenger's withdrawal essentially guarantees Greene's Congress victory

AP photo

In this photo from Aug. 11, a supporter takes a photo with construction executive Marjorie Taylor Greene, background right, in Rome. The Democratic candidate running against Greene, a Republican, has dropped out of their race for a U.S. House seat representing northwest Georgia. Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal bowed out of the race on Friday.

ATLANTA — The Democratic candidate challenging QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene for a North Georgia U.S. House seat dropped out of the race.

Kevin Van Ausdal released a statement Friday that said he is leaving the race for “family and personal reasons.” His late exit nearly guarantees Greene’s win in the general election on Nov. 3.

“After lengthy discussions with my team, attorneys, party officials and others, the answer was clear, stepping aside would be the best for the voters,” Van Ausdal said.

The Democrat noted he is leaving Georgia which would disqualify him from the race.

Van Ausdal was unlikely to win over his pro-Trump and pro-guns opponent in Congressional District 14, which includes Whitfield and Murray counties, where 75% of residents voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and where current Republican Rep. Tom Graves won in 2018 with 76% of votes.

Under Georgia law, a candidate who withdraws less than 60 days before election cannot be replaced on the ballot.

Despite her controversial platform and history of remarks backing conspiracy theories, Greene has gained national attention. After her victory in the Aug. 11 runoff, Trump tweeted that the QAnon supporter is a “future Republican star.”

But even high-profile Republicans have pulled their endorsements of Greene after past remarks have surfaced — including referring to Muslim members of Congress as an “Islamic invasion into the government."

Adding to the shake-up just weeks from the general election, incumbent Tom Graves released a statement Friday that said he will resign from his term early. After announcing last year he would not seek reelection, Graves will resign from his post next month.

It is unclear Monday how the remainder of Graves’ term will be filled.

Riley Bunch covers the Georgia Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites.

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