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Photo by John Bailey of the Rome News-Tribune via The Associated Press / In this March 3, 2020 file photo, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks to a GOP women's group in Rome, Georgia.

This story was updated Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at 7 p.m. to replace the AP article with a staff-written story.

Kevin Van Ausdal, the Democratic nominee for Georgia's 14th District Congressional seat, announced Friday he is dropping out of the race.

In a statement on his social media pages, Van Ausdal said he is heartbroken about the decision to drop out and is doing so for "family and personal reasons."

"After lengthy discussions with my team, attorneys, party officials and others, the answer was clear, stepping aside would be best for the voters," Van Ausdal said in the statement. "The next steps in my life 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."

Van Ausdal was considered a longshot in the deeply red Northwest Georgia district.

He faced Marjorie Taylor Greene, a businesswoman who easily beat neurosurgeon John Cowan in a primary runoff for the open seat on the Republican ticket. The winner of the November general election will replace U.S. Rep Tom Graves, who did not seek re-election.

Greene, who has expressed support for the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon and been criticized for a series of racist comments, won the election despite several GOP officials denouncing her campaign after videos surfaced in which she expressed racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views.

Van Ausdal said he got into the race because he believed none of the anger and divisiveness was making anything better.

"This rhetoric has turned into dangerous extremism, like the candidacy of Marjorie Greene," he said. "I will put every resource, every bit of knowledge into the campaign that comes behind me to defeat Marjorie and restore hope to the people of Northwest Georgia."

Greene's campaign did not immediately respond to news of Van Ausdal's decision.

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QAnon-supporting Georgia candidate unrepentant despite GOP criticism

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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