The race to replace Mark Meadows in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District was full of unexpected twists and turns almost from the moment it began last December. True to form, the final result was perhaps the most unexpected development - a blowout win.
When Mark Meadows announced in late 2019 that he wouldn’t seek reelection, 18 candidates from four parties jumped right in. On Nov. 3, only one was left – 25-year-old Hendersonville Republican Madison Cawthorn, who will now be the youngest member of Congress.
“The people of Western North Carolina said that we are sending a weapon to Washington, D.C to end this divisiveness, to bring America back to what it once was,” Cawthorn said.
North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District was redrawn last year, after courts determined it was a partisan gerrymander. The new map made it slightly more Democrat-leaning, but not quite enough for them to flip the seat. Cawthorn prevailed over his Democratic opponent, retired Air Force Col. Moe Davis, by more than 12 percentage points.
Cawthorn was dogged by scandal throughout his race, with allegations of Nazi sympathies, ties to white supremacists and reports of sexually aggressive behavior towards women. There was even a letter from his former classmates at Patrick Henry College, denouncing him. That didn’t seem to matter to voters in this mountain district.
Cawthorn took the stage at an election night event shortly after 10 p.m., thanking voters and pledging to be an advocate for Western North Carolina, and for the country.
“When we look at our country right now, everybody, I think that we realize that we’re not as great as we once was [sic]. That’s why the slogan our president has, ‘make America great again’ is hearkening back to what America once was. We are not nearly as noble or powerful as we have been in the past.”
While his speech was diplomatic, a tweet of just three words prior to it where Cawthorn acknowledged his victory, was not. Likely directed at his opponent, Cawthorn simply said, “Cry more, lib.”
Democratic nominee Moe Davis released a statement Tuesday after his defeate. "I’m grateful to over 1,000 volunteers who worked tirelessly to help me try to bring better days to Western North Carolina. I’ll be forever grateful for their support. But the voters have spoken and while I’m disappointed, I respect their decision.
We live in a divided America and a divided Western North Carolina. It is now up to those elected to find a way to heal the divisions, seek common ground and work together to reduce poverty, increase access to healthcare and protect our precious environment. There is a lot of work to do. We are here to help."