The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office has deployed a vehicle outside the Hendersonville residence of Madison Cawthorn, the Republican candidate for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, in response to “specific threats” made against the politician. Maj. Frank Stout, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, confirmed that presence in a Sept. 8 conversation with Xpress.
Stout declined to provide additional information about the threats or their credibility, citing his office’s ongoing investigation. However, he said that he’d observed “a lot of hostility in the campaign this year” on social media — more so than in prior election cycles.
“With the protests and with social media with everything that’s going along, you’ve got certain individuals that appear to be more active, we’ll say, with the social media and the things that are said,” Stout explained. “They’re brave and they’re brazen behind the keyboard. We have to take these threats seriously, especially if they’re directed personally.”
No additional taxpayer funds are being expended to provide security for Cawthorn, Stout said. He emphasized that the HCSO commonly offers protection for residents who have been the target of threats and that “this is not about politics in any way.”
Aaron Sarver, spokesperson for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, said that he was not aware of any similar threats against Moe Davis, Cawthorn’s opponent in the House race, who lives in the Riceville community. Sarver added that the BCSO has “not brought any charges against individuals making threats to local political candidates” since Sheriff Quentin Miller took office in December 2018.
The law enforcement presence for Cawthorn comes as his campaign has criticized Davis’s own language on social media. On Sept. 8, Cawthorn blasted a 2019 tweet from Davis in which the Democrat used violent imagery to advocate for the defeat of the state Republican Party.
“When @NCGOP extremists go low, we stomp their scrawny pasty necks with our heels, and once you hear the sound of a crisp snap, you grind your heel hard and twist it slowly side to side for good measure,” Davis wrote.
“Tough debates about our records and positions are fair game, but advocating violence against those who disagree with you is disgraceful and dangerous,” Cawthorn argued in a tweet quoting Davis’s earlier remarks. “I denounce political violence in any form and encourage my opponent to renounce this statement.”
Shortly before 5 p.m. on Sept. 9, Davis’s campaign issued a response: “This election is not about salty tweets from the past; it’s about the future of Western North Carolina, from healthcare to education, broadband, the environment, Social Security, Medicare and the Post Office. Our future.”
Davis himself provided additional context about his Sept. 2019 remark through a series of tweets on Sept. 11. “It was a year ago today that I wrote the tweet that has my #NC11 opponent clutching his pearls. That was the day the NCGOP-led legislature held a vote to override a veto after telling Dems there would be no votes. It was a day after the NC 9 special election that resulted from NCGOP voting fraud.” he wrote. “So my point was Dems have to quit trying to ‘go high’ while the NCGOP habitually lies, cheats and steals to fight the tide of demographics and democracy. Dems have to fight back … and I am.”
With additional reporting by Molly Horak
Updated at 3:49 p.m. on Sept. 11 to provide additional comment from Moe Davis