Two Republicans challenging U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in the upcoming primary are making it clear they'll take a more measured approach to win votes.
"I’m a Christian, a mother, a small business owner, and a no-nonsense conservative who believes Congress needs more people who are interested in serving and fewer people who are trying to become a celebrity," said Jennifer Strahan, who entered the race in September.
Dr. Charles Lutin filed in October.
"We the Republicans in the U.S. need to make statements that are believable if we wish to be believed, and we need to present candidates who are presentable if we wish to be elected," he said.
While Greene has a hardcore base of supporters -- and nearly won her 9-person primary without a runoff in 2020 -- the Northwest Georgia district that elected the controversial Rome Republican is changing. A new voting district map will be in effect for the 2022 elections.
Under Georgia's new congressional district map, the 14th district remains a Republican stronghold -- but the addition of more than 70,000 voters in heavily Democratic Cobb County areas is expected to take it down a notch.
The primary elections, set for May 24, 2022, will provide the first indications of what type of candidates can prevail.
Qualifying runs from March 7-11, so there's still time for other candidates who may be weighing the odds to sign up. But battle lines are already being drawn in the contests that will determine each party's November nominee.
Georgia has an open primary system so voters in May will be able to select either the Democratic or Republican ballot. There are four Democrats campaigning for their party's nod so far, and that contest will be covered in a separate report.
Meanwhile, Republicans Strahan, Lutin and a third challenger, Mark Clay of Rome, are positioning themselves to take on Greene this spring.
Clay has been low key in his outreach since filing to run in May and has yet to set up an online presence. His latest campaign finance report through Sept. 30 showed just $6,000 in seed money and no contributions after May 18.
Lutin will be filing his first campaign finance report in January, although he said in late October he had raised close to $10,000. His website, LutinForCongress.org, will be hosting his first Virtual Town Hall Meeting from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Decatur-based emergency physician and family practitioner, who retired in 2019, has been sending out weekly newsletters detailing his travels through the district. Lutin's missives focus on getting to know people, one-on-one, and his disdain for Greene and former president Donald Trump.
He's running, he said in a statement sent to the Rome News-Tribune, "because American Democracy is on life support, and because people like our current representative, Marjorie Taylor Greene caused this mess. ... Whenever the US and the MAGA Republicans eventually wake up from this MAGA fueled bender, it is going to be a helluva hangover."
Lutin is a U.S. Air Force veteran and private pilot. He's calling for term limits for Congress, a reorganization of the Veterans Administration and a secure border combined with immigration reform. Education, law enforcement and Second Amendment rights and responsibilities round out his signature issyes.
Strahan, CEO of the healthcare consulting firm J. Osley & Co., aims her criticism for the most part at "Democrats in Washington – led by Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi – (who) are infringing on our constitutional liberties, jeopardizing our national security, and threatening our jobs."
But she also targets Greene as ineffective and unnecessarily strident.
When the congresswoman attacked as "traitors" the 13 Republican House members who voted for the infrastructure bill, Strahan pushed back on her Facebook page, @StrahanForCongress.
"Now is NOT the time to tear our own party apart with frivolous in-fighting," she wrote on a post saying she disagreed with their vote but agreed with Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Tex., who argued against punishing them.
The Paulding County entrepreneur has been showing up around the district, most recently marching in Dalton's Veterans Day parade. She also attended a Students For Life of America anti-abortion bus tour stop at the state capitol last week and is keeping a focus on her conservative credentials.
"Like many parents, I don’t want my 5-year-old son to learn Critical Race Theory in a school system that is politicized and focused on educational bureaucracy, rather than the needs of our kids," she wrote in a statement to the RN-T. "To fight and win on these issues, we’re going to need a congresswoman who is serious about getting the job done."