The youngest member of the US House of Representatives has just lost his seat in Congress.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn was defeated in Tuesday’s Republican primary by North Carolina state senate member Chuck Edwards in a surprising loss on a busy primary election night. Mr Cawthorn admitted losing the race when called on Chuck Edwards, according to his campaign. The Associated Press called the race shortly after 11 p.m.
The result is a devastating blow to a prominent Republican who had the support of Donald Trump as well as many popular GOP figures, and a sign that Mr. Trump’s ability to pick a winning candidate is not absolute.
Mr. Cawthorn watched his defeat come from his campaign headquarters in his small hometown of Hendersonville, North Carolina. The stage was sparsely attended, with the media practically outnumbering the supporters. By the time his opponent declared victory, Mr. Cawthorn was even more crowded with police than supporters, and campaign staffers were quick to call on police to completely force reporters off the property.
‘No idea’ what happened tonight, said a Cawthorn staffer who did not give his name The Independent as the last stragglers departed.
He confirmed Mr Cawthorn would not make formal remarks at the end of the night, only offering: ‘Maybe something tomorrow’.
“It is what it is,” added the staff member as the parking lot was cleared by police.
Mr. Cawthorn gave Mr. Trump a final nod as he emerged from his victory party.
“No matter what you’re up against, when Donald Trump backs you, he backs you until the end,” Cawthorn told supporters.
Mr. Cawthorn’s defeat was the perfect foil for victory for Ted Budd, the Trump-endorsed GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in the state, who won his own primary handily. The GOP Senate primary ended just minutes after polls closed when it became clear that Budd would win by double digits over Pat McCrory, the state’s top former governor.
Meanwhile, Mr Edwards saw the results arrive from his monitoring party at a nearby hotel on the outskirts of Hendersonville. The victory was largely due to the actions of his opponent, and the mood at his headquarters was downright exuberant by the end of the evening.
The state senator addressed his supporters around 10 p.m. and gagged with reporters soon after. He confirmed in his remarks that Mr Cawthorn called him, conceded and offered his full support for the general election in November.
“Congressman Cawthorn was very polite, very sympathetic, offered his support in any way to help me defeat the Democrat,” Mr Edwards said. He will face Democratic candidate Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in November.
Mr Cawthorn’s campaign has faced opposition from future US state senator Thom Tillis, as well as a super PAC who leaked sexually explicit images of him in a bid to discredit his image.
It’s unclear exactly what effect these leaks had on the primary, but more than a few Edwards supporters could be heard grumbling at his event and the candidate himself, while staying away from controversy. , noted how important it was for voters to have someone with “proven track record” and “experience” in the job.
“I think the voters in the mountains recognized that we needed someone with a proven track record in Washington DC,” he told reporters, apparently shooting Mr. Cawthorn’s record. “I had the opportunity to show them that record” in the state Senate, he added.
Supporters of his campaign added to The Independent that Mr. Edwards’ conservative record in the state Senate was attractive, while many seemed keen to avoid mentioning the controversial incumbent.
“We voted for Madison and supported her financially (in 2020),” Melody Haltmann said in an interview. “But we also supported Chuck when he was at State House.”
In the style of Mr. Edwards, she added in stark contrast to Mr. Cawthorn: “He’s not flamboyant. He went there and did the job. And along the jump, it took a lot of patience, and a lot of feedback [that] many people were unwilling to do so.
Her husband Bob pointed more directly to Mr Cawthorn’s personal issues, calling them an ‘underground’ issue for the candidate who underscored his entire campaign.
“The fact that Madison unfortunately had a bomb wedding, it didn’t look very mature,” Haltmann said, adding that the personal stories “fucked” the young contestant.
Mr. Tillis supported Mr. Edwards’ candidacy but did not appear in person to watch the results; Among the state officials who attended was newly re-elected North Carolina state legislator Jake Johnson, as Mr. Cawthorn, a party youngster at just 19, joked with another supporter of ‘Edwards saying that the “Fire Madison” PAC responsible for leaking the salacious footage had released “one video too many”.
“Who knows what other videos are out there,” an Edwards supporter joked to her in response.
Scandals have plagued Mr Cawthorn’s campaign throughout 2022. He’s been accused of driving with a revoked license and cited for carrying a gun through an airport, and it doesn’t even begin to touch his feud newly erupted with Republican leaders. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy painted him as a liar after Mr Cawthorn alleged his colleagues were using cocaine and inviting him to orgies, and he was unable to to get the approval of a single member of the North Carolina congressional delegation.
Tuesday’s result is a sign that Donald Trump’s endorsement isn’t enough to carry a candidate with significant baggage over the finish line in every race. The former president urged his supporters to “give Madison a second chance” in a semi-endorsement released ahead of the primary on Monday, but that was not enough to rally Mr Cawthorn’s supporters to the polls.
The Independent Gt