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America's Worst Congressman This Week: Madison Cawthorn

If you've been reading DWT over the last few years-- and especially over the past few hours-- you already knew that Madison Cawthorn is a dick whose membership in Congress is what the Jews called a shanda. (Translation: "a person, thing, or act that brings shame or scandal; a disgrace.") Is there any chance of getting rid of him. In a gerrymandered district like NC-11, that's a very steep climb. The partisan lean is R+14. Democrats don't win districts like that, not even in blue wave years. The biggest county in the district, Buncombe, is an anti-Cawthorn bastion.

Trump won the district last year Trump won the 2020 election there 55.4% to 43.3%. These are how the counties voted in 2018 (the last blue wave), listed on order of voter participation. I also included the percentage of people fully vaccinated as of today. (Keep in mind, the state is 60% fully vaccinated.)

  • Buncombe- D+10 (66%)

  • Henderson- R+21 (57%)

  • Burke- R+33 (47%)

  • Caldwell- R+47 (47%)

  • Haywood- R+19 (57%)

  • Transylvania- R+15 (54%)

  • Macon- R+34 (58%)

  • Jackson- R+1 (54%)

  • McDowell- R+41 (52%)

  • Cherokee- R+51 (56%)

  • Yancey- R+23 (51%)

  • Madison- R+10 (56%)

  • Mitchell- R+53 (50%)

  • Swain- R+18 (57%)

  • Clay- R+47 (53%)

  • Graham- R+52 (49%)

Yesterday, Open Secret writer William Gavin reported that after several feints about leaving his western North Carolina for greener pastures, Cawthorn had settled back into running in a district where plenty of voters are embarrassed by his antics. Gavin wrote that there are 15 candidates running against Cawthorn, although most are not serious candidates. Several Republican candidates who filed to run after he announced he was looking for a new seat, have dropped out now that he's back in NC-11, including Lynda Bennett and Ken McKim. One Democrat, Eric Gash, also dropped out, despite having raised $318,319 and spent $233,131.

Two other Democrats had raised serious money by the end of 2021-- Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara ($1,179,063) and Josh Remillard ($330,643). Cawthorn raised $2.8 million but spent almost all over it ($2.6 million), much of it introducing him to people in the new district her's not running in after all.

"Besides Cawthorn," wrote Gavin, "the best-funded Republican contender in the 11th district is Bruce O’Connell, the owner and operator of the Pisgah Inn hotel and restaurant. O’Connell is likely best known for defying an order from federal park officials to close down because the inn was leased on federal land, which turned him into an overnight sensation with Tea Party supporters for a brief time in 2013. O’Connell loaned his campaign $1 million, and spent just $72,000, leaving the candidate with $971,000 remaining after December." But with no ability to fundraise.

The only other primary opponent who raised any real money is state Senator Chuck Edwards, who brought in $335,175, most of which ($250,000) from his own bank account.

CNN reported this afternoon that this has been one disastrous week for Cawthorn. Chris Cillizza wrote that "[F]or the second time in the last five years, Cawthorn was facing charges of driving with a revoked license. And that that charge was one of three pending traffic citations against the congressman. (The other two were for speeding-- one for going 89 miles per hour in a 65-mile-per-hour zone, the other for going 87 miles per hour in a 70 mile-per-hour zone.)

Then, on Thursday, a video surfaced of a recent speech Cawthorn gave to supporters in which he described Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a 'thug' and called the Ukrainian government 'incredibly evil.' He also insisted, without explanation, that the Ukrainian government was 'pushing woke ideologies.' He didn't specifically explain what misinformation Zelensky was allegedly pushing on America."

Cawthorn has stirred controversy since 2020, when he won the House seat of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, despite the fact that then President Donald Trump had endorsed one of his GOP primary opponents.
Photos of a 2017 trip Cawthorn made to Adolf Hitler's vacation house-- prior to running for Congress-- surfaced on Instagram. Cawthorn wrote that the visit has been on his "bucket list for awhile" and "did not disappoint."
In 2020, a website created for Cawthorn's campaign alleged that New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was aiming to "ruin white males running for office." Booker said at the time: "It just really personally saddens me that somebody who is so clearly racist is a nominee of a major party, and I think it's a disrespect of the entire community." In the wake of the controversy, Cawthorn said that "the syntax of our language was unclear and unfairly implied I was criticizing Cory Booker."
In a Washington Post profile of Cawthorn that ran in February 2021, Michael Kranisch wrote:
In a Washington Post profile of Cawthorn that ran in February 2021, Michael Kranisch wrote:
The story of Cawthorn's rise is, by any measure, an extraordinary accomplishment at a young age by a man who suffered a horrific injury. But an examination by The Post of how he ascended so quickly shows how even one of the most neophyte elected Republicans is adopting the Trump playbook, making false statements about his background, issuing baseless allegations about voter fraud and demonizing his political opponents."
The following month, CNN reported on the allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct made against Cawthorn by several women when he was in college. For his part, Cawthorn said that "I have never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life."
Which is, well, a lot. Especially when you consider that Cawthorn hasn't even served a single full term in Congress. Controversy seems to follow him, which is rarely a good thing for an ambitious politician with big dreams.



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