North Carolina Primary 2022: Cawthron faces challengers

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn struggled to hold onto her seat in western North Carolina on Tuesday, facing a tough challenge from a state lawmaker. state in the Republican primary.

With most votes counted, election results in the Republican 11th District primary showed the pro-Donald Trump congressman and pro-Donald Trump trailing state senator Chuck Edwards slightly.

Six other GOP candidates were in the running, which became a test of whether voters would grant Cawthorn another term despite his personal and political stumbles.

Responding to questions from reporters on Tuesday night with the outcome still uncertain, Cawthorn said he believed the deficit with Edwards would be eliminated and he would win without needing a second round.

Several GOP leaders have turned away from the 26-year-old congressman, some citing a series of unforced errors, such as calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” after Russia invaded his country. Cawthorn also infuriated fellow Republicans in Congress when he alleged on a podcast that he had been invited to an orgy in Washington.

Cawthorn banked on his successful fundraising, social media presence and vocal support for the former president to help him win the nomination for the 11th congressional district again.

Edwards, owner of the McDonald’s franchises, received the endorsement of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis and top state GOP legislative leaders. A Tillis-allied super PAC ran ads against Cawthorn, one of which called it a “reckless embarrassment” and a “dishonest disaster”.

The primary was open to Republican and unaffiliated voters. Both Edwards and Cawthorn had received more than 30% of the vote by Tuesday night, so a runoff in July could be avoided if that holds true.

The ultimate winner will face the Democratic and Libertarian candidates in the fall. Six candidates were in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Days after taking office in early 2021, Cawthorn spoke at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally to question Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election that preceded the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising. . Cawthorn quickly became a leading spokesperson for Trump’s “America First” policy and the culture wars conservatives. Trump endorsed it.

Besides the remark about being invited to an orgy, Cawthron said he has seen leaders of the movement to end drug addiction use cocaine. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy publicly chastised him for the remarks.

Cawthorn has been arrested by police three times since October and caught with guns at airport checkpoints twice since last year, including last month. And videos released in the final weeks of the campaign showed Cawthorn in sexually suggestive poses, which he said were from years ago – meant to be funny and nothing more.

Cawthorn acknowledged the speeding and gun citations as failings, but said the videos were part of a “drip campaign” by his political enemies, some of whom he included Republicans , to flood the district with negative stories.

Cawthorn was considered a rising star by many conservatives when in 2020 he won a runoff for the seat vacated by Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff.

Cawthorn, who uses a wheelchair after being partially paralyzed following a car accident as a teenager, turned 25 – the constitutional minimum age to sit in the House – during the 2020 campaign.

In an election-eve post on his social media site Truth Social, Trump asked primary voters to back him up again: “Recently he made some stupid mistakes, which I don’t believe he will make again… to Madison second chance!”

Perhaps his biggest political mistake came last fall, when he decided to run for another seat in the U.S. House, which could have led to an easier re-election bid. , only to return to the 11th District when the redistricting dispute again altered the lines. Edwards and others accuse Cawthorn of trying to distance himself from his constituents for political reasons.

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