Charles Lutin wants to defeat Marjorie Taylor Green: let's help him.
All the moderate candidate needs is some wind at his back and for Greene to keep doing what she does: nothing.
Dr. Charles Lutin, a Republican candidate running for Marjorie Taylor Greene’s 14th Georgia Congressional District seat, would not likely have attended a conference late last month in Orlando that featured chants in favor of white male dominance of the Republican Party, as Greene did when the conference organizer called white GOP men the “secret sauce” of the GOP.
Nor would he have stood by without saying a word of disapproval when America First Pac Conference (AFPAC) attendees chanted, “Putin! Putin! Putin!” on the weekend when the sovereign, democratically elected government of Ukraine was being invaded by the Russian dictator.
In contrast to Greene, Lutin, a physician and former Air Force officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, believes differently, saying:
“No patriotic American who favors democracy should look at the naked aggression of a strong nation upon a weaker one and side with the stronger nation, particularly in the case of Vladimir Putin.”
The question is, will Georgia’s 14th District voters choose the patriot, Lutin, over the Congresswoman whose Feb. 28 AFPAC appearance put her on the side of Ukraine's death and destruction at the hands of Putin?
Even with the May 25 primary looming, it may still be too soon to predict whether voters will give Greene the ability to create divisions and disruptions in Congress for another term. After all, Greene still appeals to many in her District, mainly because of her renegade outspokenness. But a growing cadre of others there see Greene’s divisiveness and absence of material accomplishments as two good reasons to want her gone.
Violent rhetoric leads to DC alienation
Since taking the oath of office on January 3, 2021, Greene’s combative and even violent rhetoric have separated her from colleagues of both parties who went to Washington to get work done for their constituents, with only a few legislators, such as Colorado’s Lauren Boebert and Florida’s Matt Gaetz, as her remaining allies.
Greene’s call for the “execution” of Democrats such as former president Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in concert with her adherence to non fact-based Q’Anon conspiracies, such as one claiming Israeli-financed space lasers caused California’s wildfires, got her kicked off the Labor and Education and Budget committees, spaces for legislators to glean important policy information, build alliances, and spearhead legislation to help their voters.
The Feb. 3, 2021 House vote to ban Greene, a decision joined by 11 Republicans, saw perhaps the beginning of the end of the kind of wide appeal that propelled Greene to victory in 2020 with 59 percent of the vote. A Feb. 4, 2021 New York Times article, “‘It’s Embarrassing’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Tests the Limits of Some Voters,” traced the widening crack in Greene’s support not only to her now more limited ability to help the District because of the committee decision, but also because of her tendency to become the butt of jokes from comedians and pundits eager to seize any Greene goof to their advantage.
Cold soup, hot humor
The latest gaffe happened a few weeks ago when Greene mixed up “gazpacho” for “gestapo” when claiming that Capitol Police had inappropriately searched the office of a fellow legislator, while failing to mention they conducted the search because he had carelessly left open his office door. This unleashed a week’s worth of late night monologues and corresponding Tweets, such as Jimmy Kimmel’s:
”Marjorie Taylor Greene was busy today defending storm troopers. If the Soup Nazis get hold of us, they’ll send you right to the goulash.”
Even online critics got into the act with comments like:
* “The motto for the Gazpacho Police is ‘Justice Served Cold,’ and
* “Once we get the Gazpacho Police, it won’t be long until they’ll impose Sangria Law.”
On Kimmel’s ABC site one Georgia commenter posted an apology and hoped-for sign of Greene’s eventual comeuppance:
“We apologize that MTG ever got elected…I hope the nightmare will end soon.”
Ending the nightmare
Lutin is not the only Republican trying to unseat the incumbent Congresswoman. He’s joined by Jennifer Strahan, an entrepreneur who also believes Greene has failed her District. But rather than position herself as a moderating force, Strahan’s website shows the candidate trying perhaps to run to Greene’s right by slinging some some red meat of her own. In a statement neither supported by ongoing, favorable job data nor other recent headlines, Straham states:
“Democrats in Washington–from Joe Biden to Nancy Pelosi–are infringing on our constitutional liberties, jeopardizing our national security, and threatening our jobs, and the 14th District is left without a real advocate or even a single seat on a congressional committee. We deserve better.”
Strahan’s partisan pitch is neither the first nor the last time a candidate will stretch the truth a little to get elected. And its ideological content differs greatly in degree from Greene’s attack dog posture on her Congressional website, https://greene.house.gov/.
There, the viewer immediately notices a bold, tabloid style headline in demonic black and red calling for the firing of Dr. Anthony Fauci, with a photo of the epidemiologist looking as if it’s been torn from the pages of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.
Greene: Gold Medal for Rittenhouse
Greene’s site goes on to feature page upon page calling for this or that, but with the status of each item stipulating it’s languishing “in committee” and going nowhere. These include: a call for President Joe Biden’s impeachment, the first filed within a day of Biden’s taking the oath of office; a demand all 50 states respect Texas’s open-carry policies with no restrictions; an amendment to “remove Biden’s hostage grip” on school districts changing to remote learning at the beginning of the pandemic even before the availability of either masks or vaccines as “fascist”; a resolution to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Wisconsin killer Kyle Rittenhouse, etc. etc.
Greene’s nihilistic approach to legislating, which this writer describes as nothing getting done nor likely will be getting done, is what frustrates former Republican officials back in Georgia, such as Jason Shepherd who used to run the Republican Party in Cobb County, an area adjacent to the 14th District and where Greene owns a home which had functioned as her only official address until recently.
According to local Atlanta television news coverage, Greene bought a second home in the District but has filed for homestead exemptions for both of them. Since taxpayers may legally file for only one homestead exemption, it’s odd the District’s elected Congressional representative did not realize her error. Another interpretation is that Greene did know of its illegality, and filed anyway (wsb.tv.5.14.2021/justin_gray).
Ineffectiveness: her Achilles Heel
Former Cobb County Republican official Shepherd believes Greene’s antics and angry rhetoric will ultimately doom her chances for reelection, saying:
“I think her effectiveness as a member of Congress is her biggest Achilles heel. It’s one thing to be able to go to Washington D.C. and pound your fist and say, ‘We’re not going to take it, and stand up for the people. But she can’t stand up for the people because she can’t get anything passed (”https://www.huffpost.com/entry/marjorie-taylor-greene-georgia-primary).
Cool hand Lutin
Neither angry rhetoric nor going to Washington to get nothing done interests Lutin, one of the two top challengers for Greene’s position.
A carefully spoken man with a calming courtesy that seems to be the essence of Southern courtliness, at least to this Northern writer, Lutin personifies an approach to legislating envisioned long ago by the Founding Fathers: a government with checks and balances dependent on cooperation and compromise.
Lutin says he’d bring a “fresh mindset” to representing 14th District voters in Washington, a place where “leaders develop personal relationships that can lead to problem-solving” and getting things done.
Bi-partisan role models
Lutin traces his ability to get along with people with different points of view to his upbringing.
Lutin’s mother was a New Deal Democrat and his father, a conservative Republican. Both were born and raised as Northerners, his father hailing from Connecticut and mother from Westchester County in New York State before settling in Nashville, Tennessee.
Lutin’s father taught high school chemistry before deciding to go to law school and become an attorney. And his mother, according to Lutin, may have been Tennessee’s “first deaf education teacher,” and he is proud of her pioneering contributions to that now important and widely available pedagogy in public schools.
In spite of his parents’ political differences, “they found a way to make it work,” as evidenced by a 36-year marriage and Lutin’s pride in his successful immediate family of two surviving brothers and one sister.
Lutin studied medicine at Duke, got married, started a family, practiced medicine in North Carolina, and is now divorced. Lutin describes himself as an aviation enthusiast and military history buff, so he was inclined to say yes when contacted by an Air Force recruiter.
Commissioned in 2006, Lutin served tours in base hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan where he oversaw medical evacuations and managed the public health infrastructure for Air Force personnel.
Props for the American government
While in the Military, Lutin burnished his respect for the American government, an entity he acknowledged as sometimes maddingly slow, but also competent. And when all is said and done, Lutin believes it to be the best governmental system in the world. In this respect he differs from popular alt-right portrayals of the federal government as a menacing
If elected to Congress, Lutin vows to tap into the government’s potential to help District 14 voters, an ethos that tracks with other Republican legislators in states with issues not dissimilar to Georgia’s who have managed to succeed.
For example, Alabama’s 4th Congressional District also is tackling unemployment and underemployment, lack of access to medical care, and opioid addiction, as Georgia’s 14th District is.
But the Alabama district’s Republican Congressman, Robert Aderholt, has succeeded in getting two grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for $1,182,286 and $567,000 to bolster the “medical infrastructure” of his rural Alabama district. He’s also won more targeted Congressional allotments of $500,000 and $356,000 to fight the
Addressing “unemployment,” Aderholt’s Congressional site includes specific goals to expand opportunities in his district and effusively praises efforts back home that are making progress in maintaining and bringing in more jobs.
Similarly, Republican Mike McCaul, who won his 10th Congressional District seat in Texas in 2018, just two years before Greene’s 2020 victory, also runs rings around the incumbent 14th District Congresswoman, in large part due to McCaul’s ability to reach across the aisle and form alliances.
In spite of his newness and having to serve in a Democratic-led body, McCaul has sponsored 100 pieces of legislation, ranging on economic policy, energy, border security, foreign affairs, health care, high tech, and veterans’ issues. Astonishingly, 27 have passed the House, passed both the House and the Senate, or have become law.
Evidence of McCaul’s bipartisan bonafides includes legislation co-authored with Democrats Eric Swalwell of California and Joaquin Castro of Texas. McCaul co-hosted the 12th annual Cancer Summit with Democratic California Representative Jackie Speier, which brought together doctors, advocates and survivors to raise awareness for the pediatric cancer community throughout the U.S.
As arguably the most moderate Republican candidate in the May primary field, Lutin may have a harder or easier path to victory, depending on how you look at it.
Leading Democrats Holly McCormick and Marcus Flowers have amassed impressive campaign war chests from national contributors itching to oust the incumbent Congresswoman.
But a Democrat hasn’t won Congress in the 14th District since 1966, and this may not be the year that changes that pattern in a time still marked by deep partisan divisions.
Georgia Democrats wanting, first and foremost, to get rid of Greene may consider switching parties in the May 25 primary and voting for the moderate, Lutin, as Georgia election law enables. That way, Democratic voters could still choose to return to the Party candidate in November. But even if the Democrat loses in the fall against a Republican, the GOP winner would function as a moderate winning alternative to the incendiary Greene.
Another strategy not dependent on Democratic Primary crossovers would involve Greene and Strahan splitting conservative Republican votes, opening up a pathway for a Lutin win.
Advantages and disadvantages
Greene’s name recognition gives her a big leg up going into the May primary, although to many voters, it’s also a brand that may have lived well past its shelf life.
In 2020, Greene ran on an general, ill-defined platform of anti-socialism, “protection” of the Second Amendment and rejection of so-called “cancel culture,” a trope that skewers Democrats for withholding support of people or organizations that do not support their views.
But Greene’s inability to move any legislation forward in support of even those vague campaign promises has soured many 14th District voters who hoped she’d be more productive.
Additionally, there’s a kind of inauthentic patina to Greene’s cancel culture mantra, as she’s been guilty of it herself. As evidence, one only need to consider Greene’s resolution to impeach Joe Biden one day after his taking the oath of office, and calls for the expulsion from Congress of Maxine Waters, an outspoken Trump critic, as signs of “cancel culture,” Marjorie Taylor Greene style.
Additionally, Greene seems to have accepted the “cancel culture” of alt-right AFPAC moderator Nick Fuentes who claimed that “white men are the secret sauce of the Republican Party,” thereby dissing Republican women. Fuentes made the statement just before introducing Greene at the Orlando conference, and Greene did not disavow it or call out his misogyny, choosing instead to criticize only the “cancel culture” of the left in her AFPAC speech.
Another problem for the incumbent is her close association with, to some, the once shiny, but now tarnished 45th President, who may no longer possess the Midas Touch he did two years ago.
Trump’s endorsement of Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue over incumbent governor Brian Kemp has fizzled, with Kemp enjoying a comfortable 10-point lead at this point coming up to the Primary.
But now Trump has famously praised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin as “very smart” just before the Russian putsch to take over Ukraine, a country of approximately 45 million men, women, and children now facing death and destruction at Putin’s hands.
Trump is also up against a flood of current or potential litigation in New York; Washington, D.C.; and Georgia connected with alleged illegal business practices, incitement to riot on Jan. 6, and conspiracy to overturn an election, respectively. And televised hearings of the Congressional select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection have been promised for some time this spring.
All of this may have become a bridge too far for those first-time Greene voters not invested in the alt-right strains of the Republican Party as Greene is, and who are, rather, just looking for someone who can materially help the District without all the drama.
Of all Greene’s challengers, Lutin is perhaps best positioned to take advantage of any newly emerging landscape turning against Greene and towards moderation.
Maybe Lutin’s getting-to-know-you tour of the District around the time he threw his hat in the ring will pay off for voters as it’s paid off for him.
As Lutin announced his Primary run, Lutin reached out to elected officials throughout the District’s 12 counties and multiple municipalities, meeting and talking to identify concerns beyond Greene’s limited list of
Because many of the District’s residents have come to believe Greene is now “intolerable,” Lutin vowed to stay in the race and defeat the woman who had brought so much anger to Washington and disappointment and embarrassment to the voters back home.
A few months ago, an Associated Press reporter who interviewed Lutin referenced his saying, “People here are just tired of this crap”-–a quote that caught this writer’s eye and led to my own desire to follow his story.
Since then, to this writer and others, events such as Trump’s fast-growing mountain of problems and Greene’s slowly smoldering unpopularity continue to suggest that a shift in wind direction may come at the hands of Georgia’s 14th District voters. If so, former Air Force officer and Greene challenger Dr. Charles Lutin wants to be there for the lift.
For more information: https://lutinforcongress.org/