In August, when Tropical Storm Fred unleashed record flooding in western North Carolina, new Representative Madison Cawthorne, 26, was doing what he does best: publish.
Cawthorne’s presence in the MAGA-iest corners of social media is so prolific that it wasn’t until a few days after the storm – after President Joe Biden criticized Withdrawal from Afghanistan, called the Democratic governor of his state a “tyrantHe warned his followers Autocratic school boards,” And Hoot that he “would rather be hated by the mainstream media and the quagmire of DC if it meant I was loved by patriotic Americans across the country”—that Cawthorne began communicating about floods and mudslides.
And when Cawthorne finally moved on to tweeting about the storm and its damage, he chose to retweet some general government guidelines on cleanup and post photos of himself distributing meals to first responders and talking with voters.
Madison Cawthorne fantasizes about eliminating “political hostages” on January 6
Faced with criticism that he and his office were slow to respond to the natural disaster, Cawthorne was alarmed. “Partisan attacks during moments of life and death have no place in our political discourse,” he wrote in an editorial. And three days later, after 13 American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, he wrote on Twitter that Biden was a “mentally unstable individual” He urged his cabinet to dismiss him.
It is these kinds of antics — hugely popular with Trump fans and largely unproductive for the lawmaker — that produced four Republican rivals against Cawthorne. Which is why Eric Batchelor, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel and current deputy mayor, appears to have built his campaign on a simple message.
“Being an actor means being a representative of this region,” Batchelor said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “It’s not about flying around this country to raise national campaign money and looking for the next picture. It’s about being here in this region.”
The other three Republicans who raced to dislodge Cawthorne in District 11 in North Carolina — Rod Honeycott, Wendy Nevarez and Bruce O’Connell — have all entered the race over the past two months. And they all seem to argue that residents of western North Carolina deserve a more experienced and serious representative who will not only turn up, but more importantly, not embarrass their constituents in the process.
The job of a Congressman requires politicization and governance. Politics is mostly play and governance is mostly action. A section of the O’Connell website that simply reads says, “What’s Wrong With Madison Cawthorne?”
Honeycutt, a retired Army colonel, said a little more gently, saying that “maturity, leadership, knowledge and experience” are currently missing from the area.
“I would be more of a front door porch screen, or a back door porch screen, than a TV or computer screen,” he said.
For some in the field, the case against Cawthorne extends into more perilous territory in the GOP primaries — his embrace of Donald Trump’s election-rigging plots and his speech to the crowd outside the White House on Jan. 6, when he told them the Constitution was in the works. “Violated”.
Nevarez, a US Navy veteran, said the Capitol riots were “something hard to watch” and were motivated by a run against Cawthorne afterward. “These words are important,” she said.
Newly elected Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorne attempted to convert Jews to Christianity
Instead of stepping back and resetting his speech, Cawthorne worked to escalate matters. In August, he appeared to tell a voter that another pro-Trump-style January 6 rally at the Capitol might be in the works, and warned of more “bloodshed” if election “rigging” continued. These types of data added fuel to the backlash, and Batchelor claimed that much is evident in the course of the campaign.
“There are a lot of people who voted for him because they were voting Republican, they were voting for whoever they thought was the best option, but they’re not happy with it now,” Batchelor said.
But in today’s Republican Party, there may not be much room for rivals vying against the divisive politics of the MAGA Champion and national focus. This is because Cawthorn may perform the most important type of component service out there: owning libs.
Republicans who know this area say the area does not always tolerate incumbents, but they believe Cawthorne will be hard to beat in the GOP primaries. Few have forgotten how he emerged from political obscurity to win the primaries in 2020, defeating a candidate that Trump so easily endorsed.
Since then, Cawthorn’s constant partisan tweets and media visits have raised his profile and allowed him to grow a nationwide network of small dollar donors. It paid off astonishingly: In the first six months of 2021, it raised $1.8 million, more than all but a handful of lawmakers.
That high profile means Cawthorne has a real target on his back, said Carl Mombauer, the former Republican chairman of Asheville, the largest city in the area. “The heap game on Cawthorne is in full swing,” he said.
But Mumpower suggested Cawthorn’s strategy for taking the seat might be good, and argued that the primary was his “lose”.
“He’s excited, and speaking to his audience at home isn’t top of his list or even necessary,” said Mumpower, who did not vote for Cawthorn in the 2020 GOP primary but believes he has received unfair treatment from the local press and GOP critics.
“Photo shoots in the drifting camp, I know some people think this is driving, but this is often propaganda,” he said. “He has other things to consider.”
One GOP member told The Daily Beast that Trump, who won the district by 12 points in 2020, is still doing well in the polls there, and that Cawthorne has effectively developed his support base. His competitors, the spokesperson said, “have no real chance if Cawthorne stays on his current course and doesn’t make any mistakes, big and big from the point of view of the Foundation Service.”
Why would no one ever try to seduce the naysayers?
If Cawthorn simply stays on his current trajectory, that’s guaranteed to make headlines—many of which are bad.
Regardless of his political rhetoric, Cawthorne’s attention-grabbing personal behavior has been a source of heartburn for many in Beltway GOP circles, and notably, some wouldn’t be sad to see him replaced by another Republican.
Shortly after being sworn in, for example, Cawthorne oddly declared to fellow Republicans that he “built my task force around Comms rather than legislation,” according to the time. In February, he attempted to board a plane with a Glock pistol, and was confiscated. And in July, he nearly got into a physical altercation with 74-year-old Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) over a bill. After McKinley filed a moral complaint, Cawthorne sent him an error-filled apology note that was leaked and spread on social media.
This is all on top of a steady stream of disturbing reports about Cawthorne’s past – including allegations from several women that he sexually harassed them while he was a student in college. (Cawthorne dropped out of Patrick Henry Religious College after a semester in which he earned mostly his Ph.D.)
For now, Cawthorne’s rivals largely shy away from talking about his personal behavior, preferring to focus on missed votes, photo shoots, and his speech about the 2020 election. Batchelor, for example, has said he wants to stay away from personal attacks and that his “professional behavior speaks for itself.” “.
Madison Cawthorne’s ex-best friend says he lied about the car accident that left him confined to a wheelchair
Honeycutt said he did not want to be “rude” to Cawthorne and was reluctant even to discuss a particular case in which he felt the incumbent had clearly failed. “The only experience he’s had is what he’s had in that seat, and comparing myself to him — I have 37 years of experience on a strategic level, on an operational level,” Honeycutt said. “I think there is a big difference.”
Cawthorne has yet to respond directly to his Republican challengers. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast about the charges.
But the dangers of Cawthorne’s approach were clear to friendly Republicans. Karl Rove, a prominent Republican strategist, recently warned the congressman that his thirst for national media and out-of-state fundraising trips could cost him.
“You don’t get too far in campaigns nationwide,” Rove told Cawthorn in an interview with Smoky Mountain News. “Don’t neglect the people back home.”
Whether they stopped the January 6 riots or cleaned up afterwards, these lawmakers raised the cash
Republicans say the congressman should take his rivals seriously, even if he’s strongly liked. New fundraising reports will come out soon, but as of July, Cawthorne has spent most of the $1.8 million he’s raised, according to Asheville Citizen-Times.
But Cawthorne’s ability to raise such sums initially made Republicans convinced that he would easily do so going forward. His angry fundraising ability may also work against his GOP rivals, but in a different way: Democratic donors who hate Cawthorne are pushing one candidate, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who has raised more than $600,000 since entering the race, as of July.
Most of the GOP’s rivals in the race haven’t been long enough to publish their fundraising totals, and they stress that they don’t expect to irritate Cawthorne — or even come close.
Republican rivals have smaller constituencies to appeal — some smaller than others. Two of the candidates, Batchelor and Nevarez, declined to say whether they voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, and along with Honeycutt, they support the creation of an independent commission to investigate the January 6 attack.
These kinds of Republicans have become the target of Trump’s wrath and stoked hatred from his base. If such a candidate breaks through and imposes a real race against Cawthorne, it could lead to a high-profile test of Trump’s lasting grip on the Republican Party.
Batchelor said he hopes his candidacy will help demonstrate that there is an alternative to the Republican Party in the Trump era embodied by figures like Cawthorne. The challenge, he said, is to convince these Republicans that “there is more to this party than one character.”
“I may be wrong,” Batchelor said, “but a lot of people are probably beginning to accept the fact that the Republican Party isn’t just one person again.”
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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