The Northwest Georgia district represented by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in Congress is solidly — but not uniformly — Republican. Some areas adjacent to the Atlanta area, such as Paulding County, had only 64% support for Donald Trump when he ran unsuccessfully for re-election as president in 2020.
But the ongoing constitutional challenge to Greene's re-election effort doesn't arise from one of those lighter red areas. It comes from a rare band of voters — Democrats — in deep-red Walker County, where 79% of voters favored Trump.
Those who filed the legal challenge said it's part of ongoing work to improve political civility and stand up for what's right according to the law.
David Boyle, chairman of the Walker County Democrats, said in a phone interview that he helped bring together the five challengers who are legally protesting Greene's candidacy. Based on a Civil War-era provision in the Constitution that forbids insurrectionists from holding federal office, the five ballot challengers are trying to prove that Greene engaged in insurrection with whatever role she played in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters who, like her, did not believe the election of Joe Biden should stand.
In a phone interview, Boyle said many Democrats in Northwest Georgia have been discussing whether Greene's rhetoric crossed a legal boundary, as have others from across the nation. When contacted by the effort's organizers — a Massachusetts group called Free Speech for People that pressed similar cases against representatives in Arizona and North Carolina — he signed on.
"So we made the connection between the voters in our district and a national group that have the resources to actually start a legal action," Boyle said. "And I was glad to make that connection. I was the one that actually knew about that and made the connection for the voters in this district."
He said he knows three of the petitioners, and they're all active politically. According to the legal filings, the ballot challengers are David Rowan, Donald Guyatt, Mike Rasbury, Ruth Demeter and Daniel Cooper.
In a phone interview, Rasbury said he was at the hearing all day April 22, when Greene testified in an Atlanta courtroom. It was "Trump city" he said, and the crowd cheered when Greene entered — until the judge demanded an orderly courtroom. Video of the entire hearing can be watched at the organization's website.
"Greene didn't know anything, she didn't know anybody, she didn't remember but she smiled a lot and was very personable in her denials," Rasbury said.
Rasbury, a retiree who lives in LaFayette, said he he believes the case will go to the U.S. Supreme Court, adding that he's committed to the case until the end.
Boyle, a resident of Noble, said there was nothing surprising in the hearing.
"Ms. Greene's memory was remarkably poor when it had to do with something that could potentially have gotten her into trouble, but it was excellent when it had to do with her attorney's question about something that would tend to exonerate her," Boyle said. "It's one thing to say 'I wish y'all would go and do something,' and nobody pays any attention. It's another thing to urge people on and they go do it. I think that was crossing the line when people actually did what she was proposing."
This issue is a long way from being over, said Rowan, a ballot challenger who lives in Chickamauga. He said in a phone interview that he doesn't think Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will side with Trump and Greene on this issue.
"This was a well-planned insurrection. From all of them, the whole bunch," he said. "You can quote me on this: she needs to go."
The judge who presided over the hearing, Charles Beaudrot, will send a recommendation to Raffensberger, and he'll make the final decision about Greene's eligibility to run for re-election.
Referring to Greene, Rowan said this ballot challenge will "take a pawn off the board," but there are major players involved who have also taken an oath to protect the Constitution — and in his opinion they've committed treason.
Greene could not be reached for comment, but she appeared on "Real America with Dan Ball" Tuesday night on the One America News Network. In the interview, she said initially she was upset the hearing was going to be televised, but now she's glad it was.
"The entire world got to see what liars these attorneys are and how desperate they are to hold onto power and push their radical leftist agenda on the United States. And they're liars," Greene said. "They call themselves Free Speech for People but yet they were able to come down to Georgia from New York and Massachusetts or where they live and invade our state and try to take over ballots and try to control who is on the ballot."
Greene didn't address specifics of the accusations but went on to say that her voters have the right to decide who they elect and are upset about the ballot challenge. She also said she was confident she would prevail and remain in the race.
Greene won her seat in 2020 with 74.7% of the vote after her Democrat challenger dropped out of the race. In the 2020 Republican primary, she won 40.3% of the vote in a field of nine. In the primary run-off, she won 57.1% of the vote, defeating John Cowan, a neurosurgeon from Rome. She is facing several Republican and Democratic challengers this year.
Rasbury said he wasn't worried about Greene's claims that the ballot challenge effort is funded by big organizations from out of state.
"These are the only guys in the United States that got the [nerve] enough to step up to the plate and say, 'no, you can't do that,'" Rasbury said. "Nobody else wanted to do it, and I don't mind putting my name on that. That was a month ago, and things have moved along since then, but I still think the same way."
Fine with Biden
It's a good time to be a Democrat in Northwest Georgia, Boyle said. He thinks there are many voters who will vote against Greene, but they are silent because her supporters are "so threatening and nasty," he said.
Politics is a subject Boyle said he usually doesn't bring up, but he's comfortable discussing it if someone else does. With a laugh, he said that at a recent Walker County Historical Society meeting he was introduced as a Democrat. He said he was asked about inflation, and he responded that it will level out, adding that the jobs picture and economic growth is good.
"I'm fine to be with [President Joe] Biden," Boyle said.
Boyle said he stocks the food pantry at his church, is president of the historical society, chairman of the Marsh House board, works with the Arts Guild, along with his work for the Democratic Party. As with him, he said, many Democrats are active in their community as well as in politics, serving on boards and serving through their church.
"They're just well known as compassionate people, so when someone finds out they're Democrats, then that just sort of all fits together and the general public is pretty accepting [of them]," he said.
No one has ever been confrontational in person over politics, but Boyle said he has received some rude gestures while driving — and he attributes that to his left-leaning bumper stickers. But being in the political minority doesn't stop him from advocating for his values.
"A healthy community means looking at what would work and what wouldn't work in terms of policy," Boyle said, and Northwest Georgia has a lot of problems. Walker County has a low college education rate, high student drop-out rate, a high teen pregnancy rate, low wages, a lack of affordable housing, and a need to improve education, he said.
Walker County Democrats are looking out for hard-working people, "not just those who are well-washed and well-financed," Boyle said. "The local politicians are taking care of local business and the local business class. We could see a lot more effort put into affordable housing and good public education."
Rasbury said he attended the Walker County Democrats' Kindness and Civility Rally organized by Boyle in late March, in the hopes Americans can walk back the "fighting mentality" dominating politics. There were about 100 people there from several counties, he said, with music, poetry, food and good fellowship.
He didn't want to talk about which Democrat he's backing to replace Greene, but said there were three good candidates in the race, "and that's exciting." From his wife's suggestion, Rasbury agreed with a chuckle that it's lonely being a Democrat in "a red area," but said he had his political identity established as a young man when he came home from serving as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.
"Nixon was running for re-election," Rasbury said. "And between Watergate, and 18 minutes of lost tape, and the Republicans saying 'they got ya, Dick, you gotta quit.' I pretty much knew what side I was going to stand on for the rest of my life."
Even though he's been thrust into the national spotlight with the case against Greene, Rasbury said he doesn't usually discuss politics with friends or family. But he's also got a bumper sticker on his car — just so people won't get confused.
It says, "Not a Republican."