Republican North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn conceded defeat in Tuesday’s Republican primary after state Sen. Chuck Edwards beat him.
Edwards narrowly defeated Cawthorn by 2 percentage points — earning 33.5% while the incumbent representative attained 31.7% of the vote. Cawthorn left his campaign headquarters in Hendersonville and contacted Edwards to concede the race, his press secretary Luke Ball said.
Cawthorn had faced a tight challenge after Edwards had been endorsed by Republican North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, along with running alongside several other challengers in the 11th district, The Hill reported. The race consisted of challengers Rod Honeycutt, Michele Woodhouse, Matthew Burril, Wendy Nevarez, Bruce O’Connell and Kristie Sluder.
A GOPAC poll found that the 26-year-old one-term congressman’s overall support dropped from 49% to 38% over the past month, though he still remained in the lead. Edwards’ support rose from 14% to 21% in that same period. If the two top candidates did not meet the 30% threshold, they would face a runoff election in July. Cawthorn had maintained to remain above the 30% runoff threshold, with 31% of voters holding a “very favorable” view of the representative.
Cawthorn has faced backlash in the past month after Politico obtained old photographs of the representative wearing lingerie at the Royal Caribbean’s Quest game show before serving in Congress. The representative responded to the photographs saying critics were “running out of things to throw” at him.
“I guess the left thinks goofy vacation photos during a game on a cruise (taken waaay before I ran for Congress) is going to somehow hurt me,” Cawthorn said. “They’re running out of things to throw at me…Share your most embarrassing vacay pics in the replies.”
He had also been reportedly cited for having a 9mm handgun in his luggage at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in late April. Authorities issued a citation for Possession of a Dangerous Weapon on City Property.
Tillis also called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Cawthorn over his alleged involvement in insider trading connected to his Let’s Go Brandon cryptocurrency, The Hill reported.
The 26-year-old alleged that political leaders in D.C. invited him to have an orgy and snort cocaine during a PatriotTakes podcast in March. A furious House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Cawthorn “did not tell the truth” about the allegations.
“This is unacceptable,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “There’s no evidence to this.”
Former President Donald Trump backed Cawthorn late Sunday saying he deserves a second chance after making “foolish mistakes.” (RELATED: North Carolina Elections Board Says It Has The Ability To Bar Madison Cawthorn From Elected Office)
“At 18 years of age, Madison Cawthorn, the now 26 year old Congressman from the Great State of North Carolina, went through a life changing event the likes of which, fortunately, few people will ever have to endure,” Trump said via Truth Social. “In just seconds, he lost the use of the lower half of his body, a traumatic experience to say the least. 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!”
Chief District Court Judge Richard Myers blocked an effort led by Free Speech for People to bar Cawthorn from the ballot after alleging the Fourteenth Amendment disqualified him for reportedly helping to “facilitate the January 6, 2021 insurrection” in early March. The judge argued the North Carolina Elections Board cannot make judgements on Cawthorn’s alleged role in the January 6 riot.