Marjorie Taylor Greene is out but not down

It wasn’t long ago that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s political future looked shaky.

The Georgia Republican-MAGA firebrand suffered a very public ousting from the hard-right conservative Freedom Caucus, had a well-documented blow-up with Rep. Lauren Boebert, and publicly lost the support of a party official in her home state of Georgia. Former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon went so far as to call for a primary challenge against her over her alliance with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

But over the past several weeks, Greene no longer looks endangered. No substantive primary challenge has materialized. And the backlash to her ties to McCarthy (R-Calif.) hasn’t led to any clear vulnerabilities in her deep red district.

“The real story about MTG in the 14th District of Georgia is she’s stronger today than she’s ever been,” Paulding County GOP Chair Jim Tully told POLITICO. “I don’t think people in the district have a second thought about a Freedom Caucus vote.”

Greene’s ability to insulate her right flank may be a testament to just how irrefutable her brand of conservatism has become. But it also underscores how the party’s base and its establishment have become intermingled.

Greene is close with both McCarthy and Trump. She remains one of the most bombastic members of her chamber but also recently launched a joint fundraising committee with the National Republican Congressional Committee. The MTG Victory Fund, Inc., is set up to jointly send donations to Greene’s main campaign account, her leadership PAC and the NRCC.

The NRCC has joint-fundraising committees with most of its GOP members, but the new collaboration with Greene makes her a bigger part of the party’s House campaign efforts and will allow her to share her prolific fundraising abilities.

As a first-time candidate, Greene collected $2.6 million in donations in 2020 and then exploded her coffers to more than $12 million as a first-year member. Without committee assignments during that first term, much of her time and travel was occupied by political rallies with former President Donald Trump and on her own nationwide “America First” tour with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). While still questioning the 2020 election results, Greene boosted her national profile at these rallies, local fundraisers and events.

She also created a fundraising website to fund an effort to sue then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over Covid protection protocols, called SpeakerMaskhole.com. And, in Washington, she introduced articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden (something she’s done again this session), which she promoted in her fundraising appeals.

Greene’s campaign is one of the few operations not to see a dramatic drop in small-dollar donors so far this year, defined as those giving $200 or less.

Greene brought in more than $850,000 in small-dollar donations in the second quarter of 2023 — a relatively small decline from the $966,000 she raised in the same quarter in 2021, according to financial disclosures to the Federal Election Commission. TheNRCC has not been able to keep up its small-dollar fundraising program, and across political campaigns and committees, there’s been a serious decline this year.

A spokesperson for Greene declined to comment.

The negative attention Greene attracts typically comes from liberals. But this Congress, criticism from the right of her own party started around the debt ceiling fight. Bannon called for everyone who voted for the debt ceiling bill to face a primary challenge on his video podcast.

Several public spats erupted between Greene and Freedom Caucus communications chair Boebert. At this point, Brian Pritchard, the first vice chair of the Georgia GOP, weighed in on his radio show.

“It’s not because you voted to increase the debt ceiling,” Pritchard said of Greene. “But it’s how you’re handling things. Now, she has the money, plenty of money. [But] she will have challengers in the next upcoming election,” Pritchard did not respond to an interview request.

But Greene’s standing as a conservative in her district is solid. Tully, who is chair of a deeply Republican county in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, said he doesn’t think there’s an appetite for anyone else to represent the district. He added in jest that there could be someone out there further to the right than Greene, but he doesn’t know who they are.

And Cobb County GOP Chair Salleigh Grubbs also told POLITICO that she hasn’t heard anything negative about Greene being ousted from the Freedom Caucus.

“There are some people who are not thrilled with Kevin McCarthy, but there are some people that appreciate the fact that she has a seat at the table,” said Grubbs said. “She can influence change for the better with Speaker McCarthy.”

Greene is showing the limits of the conservative movement’s power in opposition to her own brand and her power to shape the Republican Party.

The county chairs, strategists and elected officials interviewed for this article all said Greene could easily beat any opponent who might enter the race. Last year, she emerged from a six-way primary with about 70 percent of the vote. In the general election, she dominated a well-funded Democratic rival in Marcus Flowers, winning 66 percent of the vote.

And after months of criticism on Capitol Hill, Freedom Caucus colleagues called themselves fans when asked what Greene’s rupture meant for the group and the campaign trail.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a former chair of the Freedom Caucus, said, “I supported having Marjorie stay.”

Florida’s Gaetz told POLITICO, “I’m Team MTG.”

The Georgia member of Congress was booted from the Freedom Caucus, but it hasn’t hurt her standing back home.  

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