A wealthy Alpharetta businesswoman is considering a run for the 14th Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger.
Marjorie Taylor Greene is currently challenging former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel in the District 6 Republican primary. Her campaign manager Isaiah Wartman said Monday she’s being urged to move her campaign to the Northwest Georgia district.
“She’s been asked and encouraged by lots of supporters, both in the district and in the House Freedom Caucus,” Wartman said.
He said Greene — a Christian conservative whose slogan is “Save America, Stop Socialism” — expects to make a decision soon.
“Should she decide to run, she will be a resident of GA 14 and live in the district,” Wartman said.
Local Republicans are not ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet.
“We think Ms. Greene is a good candidate. We just prefer someone from Floyd County, or at least the 14th District,” said Luke Martin, who chairs the Floyd County Republican Party.
Martin said Monday he’s talked to several other party chairs in the counties that make up the heavily Republican district and they’ve expressed the same reservations.
“We like her as a candidate. We just like her in the district where she lives,” Martin said.
Greene, a mother of three, and her husband, Perry Greene, are the owners of Taylor Commercial, a commercial construction and renovation company. She’s also the founder of CrossFit Passion.
She reported more than $498,000 in her campaign chest in her October quarterly filing with the Federal Election Commission.
The total reflects donations topping $125,000, expenses of more than $127,000, and a $500,000 personal loan.
Greene’s ability to self-fund could pose a challenge to potential candidates based in the 14th District.
“We were looking at what would happen if a local legislator were to run. They wouldn’t have to vacate their seat, but they can’t fund-raise during the session,” Martin said.
The Georgia General Assembly reconvenes in January. State law prohibits donations during the three or so months of the session to stave off suggestions of improper influence on pending legislation.
Graves’ announcement late last week that he won’t seek reelection in 2020 admittedly caught the GOP by surprise. Still, a number of Republican names already have surfaced — including state Reps. Katie Dempsey and Eddie Lumsden of Floyd County and Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga.
Wartman’s mention of the Freedom Caucus — an outgrowth of the Tea Party — also raises the specter of outside money. He said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Mark Meadows “and his wife, Debbie,” of North Carolina are among those encouraging Greene to move her campaign.
“She’s strongly considering it,” Wartman said.
Some local and state leaders admitted they were surprised by District 14 U.S. Rep. Tom Graves’ announcement Dec. 5 he was not seeking re-election in 2020 to a sixth term.
Paulding County Republican Party Chairman Nancy Hollingshed said she “appreciated all he’s done for the 14th District” since Graves began representing it.
“This is a big surprise,” she said.
Hollingshed said she did not want to speculate about who would be candidates for the position.
“We’re anxious to see who will step up,” she said.
Candidates must qualify by March 6 for the May 19 Republican and Democratic primary elections for the congressional seat.
However, the 12-county congressional district is heavily Republican and the winner of the GOP primary typically wins the general election.
Two Paulding residents who quickly ruled themselves out of the race to replace Graves were District 67 State Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville; and Virginia Galloway, both of whom were mentioned as possible candidates by area Republicans.
Galloway said she prefers working in her current job as regional field director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition rather than serving in Congress.
“Honestly, I love what I’m doing,” she said.
It also would conflict with husband Darrell’s role as 14th Congressional District chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, Galloway said.
Gravley had previous experience on a congressional staff as district field director for former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr from 1998 to 2001.
He said he received encouragement from friends and supporters but wanted to spend time with his family rather than seeking election to the seat representing 12 northwest Georgia counties in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“After much consideration, paired with family discussions and prayer, (wife) Heather and I have determined that the best place for me to be and where I’m needed most, is at home with our girls,” Gravley said.
He also said he wanted to continue working as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, where he serves in a leadership role in the House Majority Caucus and is in his fourth term representing parts of Paulding and Douglas counties.