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GOP candidate who embraced QAnon conspiracy theory wins Georgia runoff, CNN projects

Washington (CNN)Marjorie Taylor Greene, a GOP candidate with a track record of incendiary rhetoric and ties to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, prevailed in a Georgia primary runoff, CNN projected Tuesday, a victory that puts her in a strong position to win a congressional seat in the fall representing a solidly Republican district.

The victory will also put national Republicans in the difficult position of how to respond.

Greene faced off against GOP opponent John Cowan in the runoff. The two candidates previously competed against one another in a June primary election where Greene won roughly 40% of the vote, while Cowan received only 21%. A runoff was triggered after none of the candidates received over 50% of the vote in the initial primary.

The primary runoff for Georgia's 14th Congressional District, which is situated in the northwest corner of the state, drew national attention as a major flashpoint in the race has been Greene's promotion of the wild and unsubstantiated conspiracy theory known as QAnon.

Although the theory is nebulous enough to invite all kinds of interpretations from its adherents, at its core QAnon claims that President Donald Trump has been secretly fighting to bring down a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles that has infiltrated all levels of the US government and other elite institutions.

Greene has repeated and promoted QAnon theories and phrases, praising the mythical Q as a "patriot" in a video from 2017 and describing the conspiracy theory as "something worth listening to and paying attention to." She added, "He is someone that very much loves his country, and he's on the same page as us, and he is very pro-Trump."

Greene has also faced a backlash over the revelation of past comments, including saying that there is "an Islamic invasion into our government offices," and calling the progressive billionaire activist George Soros, who is Jewish, a "Nazi." House GOP leaders responded with condemnation following a report in Politico surfacing those and other incendiary comments in June.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-highest ranking Republican in the House, called the comments from Greene "disgusting" and responded by endorsing Cowan. Scalise has since maxed out in donations to Cowan and has helped fundraise for his campaign.

Asked during a primary debate to respond to the criticism she faced from House GOP leadership over the comments, Greene said, "If you're a Republican and if you are unapologetically conservative like I am you're going to see people like me called a racist even when it's very unwarranted."

During the same debate, Greene was asked if she was a follower of QAnon. She responded by saying in part, "I am committed to my allegiance to the United States of America. I, like many Americans, am disgusted with the Deep State who have launched an effort to get rid of President Trump." She added, "Yes, I'm against all of those things and I will work hard against those issues."

The seat for Georgia's 14th congressional district is currently held by Republican Rep. Tom Graves, who has served in the House since 2010 and announced last year that he would not seek reelection in 2020.

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