GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Much of the electoral bandwidth in North Carolina this week was absorbed by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) who in an interview last weekend had talked about the orgies and cocaine parties he had heard about occurring among the folks in Washington, D.C.

Cawthorn did not name names, so he placed all members of Congress – and we would presume the Senate – under scrutiny as perhaps being party to these parties. Some of his fellow Republicans didn’t take kindly to that and called for him to say who or to retract this broad-brush comment.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn speaks to the Republican National Convention in 2020. (Photo Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images)

Cawthorn didn’t retract anything in a public statement, but he reportedly was contrite when called into a meeting with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who apparently told Cawthorn to put up or shut up. McCarthy said Cawthorn said he might have exaggerated.

Some in Washington and in North Carolina have suggested the Cawthorn needs to be voted out of Congress, and the GOP’s pressure now seems to place in jeopardy his re-election in the 11th Congressional District.

There already are seven Republicans, six Democrats and a Libertarian seeking to unseat Cawthorn, who had planned to change districts before the final congressional electoral maps were approved. The 11th is a district of largely liberal Asheville surrounded by a handful of heavily Republican counties.

This week the leverage under Cawthorn grew much greater, too, when U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced he would support former state legislator Chuck Edwards of Flat Rock in the race. Edwards had been campaigning heavily before and after Cawthorn’s district switch and then his “orgygate.”

“The 11th Congressional District deserves a congressman who is fully dedicated to serving their constituents. Unfortunately, Madison Cawthorn has fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives, and voters now have several well-qualified candidates to choose from who would be a significant improvement. I believe Chuck Edwards is the best choice,” Tillis said in his statement.

Then, to add to the wave against Cawthorn, state Sen. Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) hosted a fundraiser event for Edwards on Thursday. That event had been planned before last weekend’s outburst, but it took on new weight given the timing.

Moore, you may recall, had expressed interest in running for Congress in the 13th District originally drawn by the General Assembly that had created an open seat, but he said he decided not to run after Cawthorn said he would run in that district.

Other Republicans in his district have said that Cawthorn no longer is electable. Michelle Woodhouse, one of Cawthorn’s supporters but now one of his competitors, said that if Cawthorn were to win the primary, “he gives the left a seat.”

Senate dancing

The race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Richard Burr of Winston-Salem is one of the hottest races in not only the state but the nation, especially with 26 candidates in the race.

The top four Republicans among the 14 in the field – Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), newcomer Marjorie Eastman of Cary, former Gov. Pat McCory and former Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro – have been jockeying for position and lobbing ads and comments at each other.

One of the key topics is debates. Three of the four participated in a debate last month in Raleigh, with Budd staying out and saying he was waiting to see who officially was in the race before taking the stage against them. He also apparently will not participate at a second debate scheduled for April 12 in Charlotte, sponsored by NC Faith and Freedom Coalition. Walker’s campaign put out a release calling out Budd for not participating and taking aim at McCrory, who the release said would not participate.

McCrory told WGHP-Channel 8 last week that he would not be part of a debate in which Budd did not participate. McCrory has been attacking Budd in ads and social media about his comments and decisions related to Russia.

Budd has led in fundraising and has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. A poll released last week by one of Budd’s allies recently sampled voters who called themselves “traditional Republicans” or “Trump Republicans.” Budd dominated the latter group.

Election dates to remember

  • Ongoing: Absentee ballots can be requested now at county elections offices or by mail.
  • April 22 is the deadline to register to vote for the May 17 primary.
  • April 28-May 14: Early voting period, with locations and schedules varying by county.
  • May 10: Deadline for submitting an absentee ballot.
  • May 17: Primary Election.
  • July 26: Run-off election in any races in which a candidate does not reach 30% plus one of the votes cast.

Tidbits

U.S. Congressman Richard Hudson
  • The four candidates for mayor in Greensboro – incumbent Nancy Vaughan and challengers Mark Cummings, Justin Outling and Eric Robert – are scheduled to appear at 4-6 p.m. Sunday in a debate at UNC Greensboro’s School of Education, Room 120.
  • The NRCC has made incumbent Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) and her seat in the 6th Congressional District one of 72 targets to flip in November. Manning will face one of Republicans Bill Schuch and Mary Ann Contogiannis of Greensboro, Laura Pichardo of Pelham, Gerry Austin and Lee Haywood of Summerfield, Marvin Boguslawski of Jamestown and Christian Castelli of Asheboro, who vie in the primary, and Libertarian Thomas Watercott of Greensboro. NRCC also has listed North Carolina’s 1st District, held by retiring Democrat G.K. Butterfield of Wilson, and the vacant 13th and 14th districts. The 13th, which has 13 competitors, is seen as a toss-up. The others all lean Democrat based on voter registration and history.
  • Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Concord), whose 9th Congressional District in 2023 will include Randolph County, as one of 12 Republicans in the House – and the only one from North Carolina – who voted in favor of a bill to cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month for those with private insurance or Medicare starting in 2023. All Democrats supported the bill.