© 2023 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

NC11: Embattled Rep. Cawthorn defeated in Primary Election

Jeffrey Delannoy

Just enough Western North Carolina voters handed incumbent Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn a narrow defeat at the hands Henderson County State Sen. Chuck Edwards in Tuesday’s primary election.

Cawthorn was only three days into his term when he first drew attention for his speech preceding the Jan. 6 insurrection, and spent much of his first term as the target of frequent criticism for controversial comments and a series of unsavory scandals that undoubtedly contributed to his loss.

“You know what? I'll tell you, there's been a coordinated strike carried out by, really, kind of the old establishment wing of our party,” Cawthorn said Tuesday night. “And it's really something that I think is a loser's mentality. They realize the direction the country's going in, the direction that the population's going in, and if they want to be able to pay off people from my past to try and bring up old pictures or things that happened years and years ago, I feel free to let them do that. I think the American people will see through that.”

Chuck Edwards, a three-term state senator from Cawthorn’s home base of Henderson County, defeated him in Tuesday’s GOP primary but just 1,319 votes, or 1.5%.

Edwards had campaigned on conservative values, and criticized Cawthorn not only for some of the statements he’d made during his brief term, but also for a poor attendance record on the Hill.

As supporters gathered with Cawthorn in Hendersonville on election night, early voting totals didn’t favor Cawthorn, and as the night wore on, Cawthorn gained ground, but never quite caught up.

By 10:45, Cawthorn spokesman Luke Ball confirmed to The Smoky Mountain News that Cawthorn had called Edwards to concede.

Edwards was able to avoid a runoff by accumulating more than 30% of the vote.

Buncombe County businessman Matthew Burril posted a surprisingly strong tally of 9.4%, good for a distant third. Bruce O’Connell, owner of the Pisgah Inn, placed fourth with 6.9%, followed by retired Army Col. Rod Honeycutt with 6.5%.

Edwards will face Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who likewise avoided a runoff, in November.