Cawthorn ousted in North Carolina

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) was projected to lose his primary in North Carolina on Tuesday night, marking the end of a brief yet controversial tenure in the House that earned him critics on both sides of the aisle.

The Associated Press called the race for Cawthorn’s rival, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, at 11:09 p.m. ET.

Cawthorn’s campaign confirmed earlier Tuesday that the lawmaker had already conceded to Edwards.

Heading into the Tuesday primary, Cawthorn faced a crowded field of Republican rivals, though he remained the favorite to clinch the nomination in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. 

But the many controversies and missteps that haunted Cawthorn’s reelection bid appeared to catch up to him.  

Cawthorn drew a handful of GOP rivals last year after he said that he would change districts to run for a seat closer to Charlotte. He returned to his old district, however, after state courts struck down North Carolina’s new House map.

Since then, Cawthorn’s political difficulties only continued to mount. 

He angered many of his fellow House Republicans earlier this year after he suggested in a podcast interview that his colleagues were attending orgies and snorting cocaine. He has also been the subject of a series of salacious revelations, including a leaked nude video that he dismissed as “blackmail.”

In two separate incidents this year he was cited for driving with a suspended license and attempting to take a gun through an airport security checkpoint. And he drew headlines for calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.”

Cawthorn sought to cast the revelations and attacks as an effort by the so-called Washington establishment to oust him. 

But Cawthorn also made powerful enemies within his home state. The top Republicans in the state General Assembly endorsed Edwards, as did Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). 

“Republicans chose Chuck Edwards tonight because he is the embodiment of Mountain values who will fight for them every single day in Congress with honor and integrity,” Tillis said in a statement on Tuesday night after Cawthorn conceded the race.

“I have no doubt he will win in November and I can’t wait to work together on behalf of Western North Carolina and hold the Biden-Harris administration accountable for its failed policies.” 

Retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) called him an “embarrassment” during a March appearance on CNN.

Nevertheless, Cawthorn retained the backing of former President Trump, who endorsed him last year and doubled down on his support ahead of the primary, saying that the first-term congressman made some “foolish mistakes” but deserved a “second chance.”

That endorsement, however, wasn’t enough to save him from defeat on Tuesday. 

Updated: 11:13 p.m.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Madison Cawthorn Madison Cawthorn North Carolina North Carolina primaries

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