After voting to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from committees last week for her endorsements of political assassinations and bizarre conspiracy theories, many congressional Democrats are eager to begin ignoring the freshman congresswoman who has sucked up so much oxygen already.
But on the battleground of electoral politics, Greene figures to be front-and-center to Democrats’ strategy heading into 2022. Top party leaders have vowed to make her the face of the GOP—Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has dubbed it the “GQP”—in order to connect every member of the party with extremism in its ranks.
Greene, however, has also proven politically valuable to Democrats in another sense: replacing Donald Trump as the favored foil in fundraising pitches to outraged liberals.
Since late January, when CNN’s KFILE kicked off a new round of reporting on Greene’s past comments, over 50 Democratic campaigns and aligned organizations have sent fundraising emails with Greene’s name in the subject line, according to a review of the Archive of Political Emails, which collects emails from political organizations.
That group includes 25 House Democratic lawmakers, at least one U.S. senator, the official Democratic House and Senate campaign organizations, labor unions, and the political action committees associated with top Democrats including Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the second-ranking House Democrat. Gun safety groups, incensed by Greene’s denials of school shootings, have been particularly active.
Even Democrats with a tenuous or non-existent connection to Greene are trying to get a cut of the action. The campaign of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), unable to vote on Greene’s censure or removal, nevertheless sent out an email saying she “must be condemned.” Terry McAuliffe, the former DNC chair running again for governor in Virginia, is fundraising off Greene, too.
“With Trump mostly out of the picture, there’s a new Republican foil, and that’s the role she is serving right now,” said Sarah Elizabeth Pole of Grassroots Analytics, a Democratic digital strategy firm. “Whether she remains in that spotlight, only time will tell.”
In the wake of an election, it’s typically a lean time for political fundraisers—especially those in the Democratic Party who have relied on Trump for the last four years to scare up dollars. Those familiar with political fundraising say that Greene, at least for now, is driving the kind of outrage that few politicians are capable of mustering.
“Emotion opens emails,” said Jared Leopold, a longtime Democratic strategist. “This is what is driving emotion right now… Donors are still extremely angry about what happened at the Capitol and motivated to get rid of Donald Trump’s politics. In some ways she’s a stand-in for the justified anger among the Democratic base about Donald Trump.”
Greg Berlin, the founder of Mothership Strategies, a leading progressive digital fundraising firm, says Greene’s extremism is a rare commodity in the field; it speaks for itself.
“She as a congresswoman is becoming a brand emblematic of the entire GOP,” said Berlin. “That’s the message Democrats are driving toward… every time a video is passed around of what she’s saying, any time any oxygen is given to her, it becomes a story.”
Within Democratic circles, there’s little consternation about casting Greene as a villain, since nearly everyone in the party believes she is one. Privately, however, some Democrats are wary of Greene becoming a more high-profile figure in the process, increasing her influence and the reach of her extreme viewpoints—especially since the GOP closed ranks around her.
Experts who track right-wing extremism say the caution is valid. “There is a concern that she’ll become a martyr figure,” said Jared Holt, a research fellow at the Atlantic Council who has tracked QAnon and Greene. “If this isn't paired with meaningful action or strategies to address a broader problem of disinformation and extremism brewing in this country... I worry the issues that contributed to Greene’s rise are going to continue to get worse. I’d hate to think that the Democratic strategy on addressing disinformation and extremism is just more electoralism.”
Many lawmakers are certainly serious about that project: the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, plus the Biden White House, have announced their intent to probe disinformation and extremism, and how they influenced the Jan. 6 attack.
But with Greene still fresh in many would-be donors’ minds, the raft of fundraising emails tend to emphasize the need to condemn her—and then defeat her, and her enablers, at the ballot box next year.
Several solicitations from AMERIPAC, Hoyer’s committee, arrive with tags like “END HER CAREER” and “DEFEAT” Greene. “Look, we can’t stress this enough,” reads one email. “Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of the most dangerous Republicans in Washington. So we need you to rush $5 to defeat Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene.”
Most of the hundreds of emails urge the recipient to sign a petition condemning Greene—which typically lead to an ask to donate. Others are more direct: an email from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) noted his support for Greene’s removal, saying, “if you can, make a donation today to show that I have your support in calling for hearings to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress.”
Some lawmakers and organizations are vowing to keep up the pressure on removing Greene from office altogether, even though leadership has shown little interest in that, especially not in the days since the bruising floor vote to remove her from committees last week. A resolution to expel Greene from the House picked up momentum and sponsors last week but has since fizzled and does not seem to be headed to a vote anytime soon.
“While this is a step in the right direction, it’s not enough,” said an email from the campaign of Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) after the vote on Thursday. “Greene has proven she is completely unfit to serve our nation, and Gerry is still calling for her expulsion from Congress.”
And while Democrats worry about enlarging Greene’s profile and setting her up for more power, some fundraisers have already floated her name for higher offices before she herself has. A solicitation from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) claims “we’ve heard” that Greene might challenge newly elected Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), though no press reports have confirmed the rumor.
“Marjorie Taylor Greene is dangerous, and if she does decide to run there is a chance she could win,” reads Johnson’s email. “Can you make a donation so we can have the resources to combat her lies and smears against President Biden and our great Democratic Senators?”
Veteran fundraisers say they are not sure if Greene will become a long-term rainmaker for Democrats, or whether her appeal may fizzle out.
“Fundraising is difficult absent of a news cycle,” said Berlin, of Mothership Strategies. “Fundraising follows the news cycle almost wholly. To the extent the press is focusing on Greene, fundraising is going to follow, and I think you’re seeing that.”
The day after the vote to remove her, Greene staged a defiant press conference that was well attended by Capitol Hill press. And since, she has continued a steady stream of comments seemingly designed to trigger the very people who might open their wallets for her political antagonists.
On Tuesday, for example, Greene—who apologized just days ago to her House GOP colleagues for embracing conspiracies—questioned the accepted reality that the Jan. 6 insurrectionists were Trump supporters by suggesting real Trump supporters would not have disrupted their objections to the 2020 election.
But Democrats are not the only ones raising money off of her time in the spotlight; she is, too. While the most recent federal filings are not yet public, Greene claims she raised over $325,000 for her campaign in the two days before the committee vote last Thursday.
“I and the America First agenda are not going anywhere!,” said a Jan. 3 email from Greene’s campaign. “More importantly I need you, the People, to have my back!”