After a contentious Republican primary, 26-year-old freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn, who represents the far west of North Carolina, was defeated in his bid for re-election by state Sen. Chuck Edwards. As the district is securely Republican, Edwards is likely to win the seat in November. The Cook Political Report and Decision Desk HQ have both called the race for Edwards.
Despite an endorsement by former President Donald Trump, Cawthorn could not overcome mounting negative attention by the media and opposition by key leaders of his own party. Trump re-established his support for Cawthorn just before the election, although in a much weaker form than the original endorsement.
On his Truth social media platform, Trumps said, “When Madison was first elected to Congress, he did a great job. Recently, he made some foolish mistakes, which I don’t believe he’ll make again … let’s give Madison a second chance!”
But the Trump’s feeling apparently was not mirrored by those in the 11th District, as voters decided not to give him that second chance.
Among the controversies were referencing drug use and orgies by other congress people, bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint, driving infractions, calling the president of Ukraine a “thug,” and sexual videos of him and friends.
Due to the nearly constant negative press he received, Cawthorn received a full field of challengers looking to end his tenure as the congressman representing North Carolina’s far western mountains. These candidates were Bruce O’Connell, Wendy Marie-Limbaugh Nevarez, Matthew Burril, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, Rod Honeycutt, Michele Woodhouse, and Kristie Sluder.
Edwards emerged from this crowded field and was able to convince enough Republican primary voters that Cawthorn was more of a liability than an asset to the district and that he would be an improvement over the 26-year-old in Washington.
Edwards was also endorsed by many key North Carolina Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and state Senate leader Phil Berger.