Rep. Cawthorn of North Carolina gives up the GOP primary to Edwards.
Madison Cawthorn gave up his Republican primary race to state Sen. Chuck Edwards on Tuesday. This means that the pro-Donald Trump firebrand was kicked out of Congress because his personal and political mistakes made his constituents unhappy.
Luke Ball, a spokesman for Cawthorn's campaign, told The Associated Press that Cawthorn called Edwards to give up the 11th Congressional District primary to Edwards.
Late on Tuesday, the AP still hadn't called the race, even though Edwards was ahead of Cawthorn and six other Republican candidates with almost all votes counted. Cawthorn shot to national fame when, at age 25, he won the seat for the mountain area.
Edwards owns a fast-food franchise and will now face Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in the November election. Beach-Ferrara won the six-candidate Democratic primary on Tuesday.
Cawthorn is a vocal supporter of Trump, but after he made a series of mistakes that weren't his fault, North Carolina's top Republican leaders turned against him. Thom Tillis, a U.S. senator who backed Edwards, said that Cawthorn was a shame for his constituents.
Tillis said in a news release, "Republicans chose Chuck Edwards tonight because he embodies mountain values and will fight for them every day in Congress with honor and integrity."
Cawthorn got bad press for speeding and breaking gun laws, as well as for calling the Ukrainian president a "thug." Many people in the 11th District didn't like his first choice to run for re-election somewhere else, then switch back to the 11th District.
Cawthorn spoke at the "Stop the Steal" rally before the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and questioned Joe Biden's win in the presidential election. This was just days after he took office in early 2021.
Cawthorn quickly became a leading voice in the culture wars for Trump's "America First" policies and conservatives. He has been backed by Trump.
Cawthorn said that, in addition to being invited to an orgy, he had seen leaders of the movement to stop drug use use cocaine. Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the Republicans in the House, told him in public that what he said was wrong.
Cawthorn has been pulled over by police three times since October for driving tickets, and he has been caught with guns at airport checkpoints twice since last year, most recently last month. Videos from the last few weeks of the campaign showed Cawthorn in sexually suggestive poses, which he said were from years ago and were just meant to be funny.
Cawthorn admitted that speeding and gun tickets were mistakes, but he said that the videos were part of a "drip campaign" by his political enemies, which he said included some Republicans, to spread bad news all over the district.
When Cawthorn won a primary runoff in 2020 for the seat that Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was leaving, many conservatives saw him as a rising star.
Cawthorn uses a wheelchair because he was partly paralyzed in a car accident when he was a teenager. He turned 25 during the 2020 campaign, which is the minimum age required by the Constitution to serve in the House.
Trump asked primary voters to back him again in a post on his social media site Truth Social on the day before the election: "Recently, he made some stupid mistakes that I don't think he'll make again. Let's give Madison a second chance!"
Cawthorn told reporters on Tuesday evening at his campaign headquarters in Hendersonville that Trump's support had been strong, even though the election's outcome was still unknown.
"I've found that most politicians will turn their backs on you in an instant if it's not good for them politically," he said. "But no matter what you're going through, Donald Trump will always have your back if he's on your side."
Cawthorn may have made his biggest political mistake last fall when he decided to run for a different U.S. House seat. This could have made it easier for him to get re-elected, but he ended up going back to the 11th District when a court case about redistricting changed the lines again. Edwards and other people say that Cawthorn is trying to leave his constituents behind for political reasons.
Edwards, who is 61, runs franchises of McDonald's in western North Carolina. He joined the state Senate in 2016 and quickly moved up the ranks, taking on chairmanships and more important issues like small businesses, guns, and immigration in the last few years.
He pushed for a bill, which Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed, that would have made all county sheriffs help the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency by holding inmates it thinks are in the country illegally.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who was only in office for one term, has given up the Republican congressional primary to state Sen. Chuck Edwards of North Carolina.