Cawthorn takes Republican nomination for NC-11 seat

Madison Cawthorn at Point Lookout Vineyards watch party on June 23
AWAITING VICTORY: Madison Cawthorn anticipates the results of the June 23 runoff election for the Republican nomination in North Carolina's 11th Congressional District during a watch party at Point Lookout Vineyards in Hendersonville. Photo by Gabe McNair

Out of the fractious field of Republican candidates aiming to replace former Rep. Mark Meadows in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, a clear winner has finally emerged. Henderson County real estate investor Madison Cawthorn took nearly 66% of the vote in a June 23 second primary against Madison County real estate agent Lynda Bennett, thereby securing the nomination to run in November’s general election.

Cawthorn, whom only about 20% of voters chose in the 12-way Republican primary on March 3, garnered a record-breaking turnout for an NC-11 runoff election. His 30,444 votes in the second primary exceeded the total ballots cast in the 2012 runoff between Meadows and Vance Patterson by over 7,400. Cawthorn also took majorities of votes in all of the district’s counties except Rutherford.

In response to a June 23 Xpress request for comment on Cawthorn’s victory, spokesperson Angela Nicholas said his campaign team would try to respond but that the candidate “has a bunch of appointments with national news already.” No further responses were provided by press time.

The race has attracted widespread attention due both to Cawthorn’s age — at 25 upon swearing in, he would be the House’s youngest member — and high-profile endorsements on Bennett’s behalf by Meadows and President Donald Trump. But Cawthorn downplayed voters’ apparent rejection of the establishment candidate in a press release issued after the results came in.

“I support our great president. I do not believe this election has been a referendum on the president’s influence,” Cawthorn said. “The people of Western North Carolina are wise and discerning. You observed both candidates and simply made the choice you believed is best for our district.”

Instead, the presumptive nominee turned his focus toward bringing “a new generation of leadership in Washington” and countering what he considers disorder within his rival party. “While the far left is lighting our cities on fire, we are lifting the light of liberty. [California Rep.] Nancy Pelosi and [former Vice President] Joe Biden may not be able to control where the Democrats are going but, together, we can,” he remarked.

Bennett, who did not provide answers for the Xpress voter guide and has generally avoided talking with local media, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the election. An Xpress call to a cellphone number listed for Bennett through her real estate company was answered by an unidentified speaker, who said that the number was not affiliated with her campaign.

Cawthorn will face Democrat Moe Davis, a retired Air Force colonel and former Guantanamo Bay prosecutor, in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3. In a June 24 post on the Old North State Politics blog, Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper said District 11’s demographics favored Cawthorn over Davis but that the election’s outcome was far from certain.

“Despite recent redistricting that brought the bright blue dot of Asheville back in the district, ~57% of the 11th Congressional District voted for Trump in the last election,” noted Cooper. But, he continued, “as Madison Cawthorn just demonstrated, sometimes candidate characteristics and the specifics of the race can make the difference and swing an election.”


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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the former news editor of Mountain Xpress. His work has also appeared in Sierra, The Guardian, and Civil Eats, among other national and regional publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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4 thoughts on “Cawthorn takes Republican nomination for NC-11 seat

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Wow was this ever a SWEET VICTORY ! Amazing runoff with a candidate who would not debate…could not debate…she was a terrible choice by Meadows and DJT to endorse! Now is the time to rally behind this impressive young LEADER! He will be tenacious in the faces of AOC and her female squad of imbeciles…

    • Concerned Citizen

      I get a serious Richard Spencer Alt-Right vibe from Mr. Cawthorn.

      • Sayornis saya

        It’s not a vibe. Cawthorn’s business name is SPQR Holdings, LLC.
        SPQR is coded language used by White nationalists to identify themselves to other white supremacists. I’ll note that coded language often offers cover and plausible deniability to users. I’ll also point out that anyone who likes to say “come and take it” in Latin knows what they’re saying when they whistle SPQR.

  2. henry

    Now we get to see how well Madison Cawthorn does in debates with Moe Davis. Cawthorn has two lines -he’ll say he will do whatever is on Trump mind on that day. And “stop the radical leftists.” Looking better for Moe Davis, a centrist Democrat.

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