Rep. Madison Cawthorn faces multiple primary challenges as he vies for reelection to North Carolina’s 11th District. Polls close at 7:30pm ET.
The race and the stakes:
Cawthorn is facing seven Republican primary challengers, including former 11th District GOP Chair Michele Woodhouse, Army veteran Rod Honeycutt, and State Sen. Chuck Edwards, who is endorsed by GOP Sen. Thom Tillis and several Republican leaders in North Carolina.
Edwards said he felt good about his chances of winning the primary elections. “We’ve got a winning team,” he previously told Insider. “We have incredible support with our endorsements, our fundraising, our boots on the ground, the feedback that I am getting from voters; I am feeling great.”
Cawthorn is spending his campaign cash at a fast clip and has been largely off the air leading up to the primaries. The high-profile freshman will need more than 30 percent of the vote in the primary elections in order to avoid going to a runoff election in July.
At 26, Cawthorn is the youngest member of Congress, but he’s become embroided in multiple controversies. These include a political action committee filing an ethics complaint against him, and police citing him for bringing a loaded gun into a North Carolina airport for the second time. Members of his own party began to publicly criticize Cawthorn after he claimed on a podcast in March that he witnessed drug use in Washington, DC, and was invited to an “orgy” by lawmakers. Cawthorn later walked back these remarks saying he exaggerated.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he’d “lost his trust” in Cawthorn after those remarks became public, according to Politico. And Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican of North Carolina, told CNN “on any given day, he’s an embarrassment.”
A few weeks later, Tillis called for Congress to conduct a House Ethics Committee to open an investigation into Cawthron after the Washington Examiner reported that he allegedly violated insider trading laws.
Honeycutt told Insider that Cawthorn’s run-ins with law enforcement are “a distraction to the election.”
“I will fill the current void of leadership, knowledge, and experience. My goal is to work hard everyday by combining my WNC mountain heritage and four decades of leading and advising congress to fight for resources and protect our great district,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, voters in Hendersonville, North Carolina, the town where Cawthorn grew up, seemed divided on whether to support his reelection ahead of the primary elections.
“He’s dangerous,” said Philip, a longtime Hendersonville resident who declined to give his last name. “He has got to get out of here … He has lost a lot of respect in this community.”
Another resident, David Gorasan, called the allegations against Cawthorn “nonsense.”
“I met him one time, he’s a great guy, and I like his way of thinking … He’s very upfront and cool and overall a very nice person,” he said.
Insider spoke with five former Cawthorn campaign volunteers who helped him run in 2020. All of them told Insider that they will not be supporting Cawthorn this time around.
“It seems like he’s forgotten where he comes from and who got him there,” Debbie Brogden, a former Cawthorn campaign volunteer, told Insider.