Kevin Van Ausdal, the Democratic candidate in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, abruptly and mysteriously announced Friday afternoon that he was dropping out of the race for “family and personal reasons.”
The “next steps in my life,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter, “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.”
He added in a separate statement that “Although all the details will remain my family’s alone, please understand this was not an easy decision. We are real people managing hard choices.”
Van Ausdal’s departure removes the last, albeit flimsy, barrier against the ascent of Republican nominee Marjorie Taylor Greene—an extremist QAnon supporter who, just recently, posted an illustration of herself holding a gun next to progressive members of the “Squad”—to the United States Congress. Though Greene has been repudiated by some individual House Republicans, GOP leadership has said they “look forward” to her election. The president, meanwhile, adores Greene, describing her as a “future Republican Star” and inviting her as a guest to his convention speech at the White House.
Just to get in on the weirdness, Rep. Tom Graves, the retiring incumbent Republican whom Greene is seeking to replace, announced later Friday afternoon that he would leave Congress in October instead of January to “avoid surprises” and because “it just doesn’t seem right to kill time on the taxpayer dime.”
The northwestern Georgia seat is about as red a seat as there is—look, for example, at whom Republicans in the district nominated—and Van Ausdal’s chances of winning the seat were marginal. But at least Democrats had someone on the ticket competing against a genuinely threatening Republican nominee. While Van Ausdal said his “team” believes there is a way to replace him, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state told the Associated Press on Friday that the deadline for replacing Van Ausdal had already passed.
A follow-up Twitter statement attributed to Van Ausdal’s campaign manager said, “Our finances are intact, and Kevin is safe.” Further details about why Van Ausdal is not just leaving the race against a radical conspiracy theorist with frightening followers but leaving the state of Georgia entirely, remain unknown at this time.