Buckling under the weight of scandal, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C. — a favorite of former President Donald Trump — lost his re-nomination bid in western North Carolina’s 11th District on Tuesday, NBC News projected.
State Sen. Chuck Edwards, a conservative backed by many of the state’s establishment players, won with about a third of the vote in an eight-way race. That left Edwards set to advance to November’s general election and Cawthorn, 26, to see his House career come to an end after one term in January.
Cawthorn spokesman Luke Ball told reporters Tuesday night that Cawthorn had called Edwards to concede.
Cawthorn, 26, lost despite an eleventh-hour appeal from Trump, who encouraged voters to look past his run-ins with the law, claims that fellow lawmakers use cocaine and engage in orgies, and images of him wearing lingerie and gyrating naked atop another man in bed.
“Recently, he made some foolish mistakes, which I don’t believe he’ll make again,” Trump, who had previously endorsed Cawthorn, said Monday on Truth Social. “[L]et’s give Madison a second chance!”
Many Republican voters in the district felt that Cawthorn was an embarrassment — and, perhaps more important, that he sought national attention at the expense of doing his job at home — a sentiment repeated in interviews NBC News conducted in the district this month.
“He’s a hot mess,” Republican voter Susan Newman, 53, said at the time. “I really don’t see him doing anything in the district — and he just keeps getting in trouble.”