His supporters? That’s another matter
Western North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn lost his bid for re-election yesterday. The first-term representative who enjoyed the strong support of former President Donald Trump, was narrowly defeated in the Republican primary in the state’s 11th Congressional District by State Senator Chuck Edwards. Edwards prevailed by just over 1,300 votes out of the 88,000-or-so that were spread among eight candidates.
Edwards received 33.4% of the vote and Cawthorn 31.9%. He will now face Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who won the Democratic primary rather handily, in the November election. The district leans strongly Republican.
As for what’s next for Cawthorn — a 26-year-old right-wing firebrand who has drawn international attention for his outrageous/extremist views and an endless series of deeply embarrassing personal and legal problems — thing look less certain.
With a deep wellspring of far right support and access to the cash that often accompanies such popularity, it figures that Cawthorn may retain some prominence. One presumes that he will be an attraction at right-wing events and, perhaps, in some media circles for — at least for a while.
That said, it’s also hard to imagine that such a deeply confused, troubled, inexperienced, and shallow young person will be able to sustain a high-impact presence in the world of politics or media for an extended period. At some point, you have to think that even the people who’ve bought into his delusions and lies will come to realize just how utterly vacuous this poor fellow is and move on to another bright, shiny object.
All of which, one hopes, opens the door at some point soon for Cawthorn to seek out and receive the sustained mental health care and counseling he so obviously needs. The man has obviously been through a lot in his life and it’s had a very traumatic impact. Perhaps now he can address some of those demons.
As, however, for the roughly one-third of the 11th District GOP electorate that, despite Cawthorn’s myriad lies and inexcusable statements and actions, still voted for him, that looks like a longer-term project.
Donald Trump once infamously bragged that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” without alienating his supporters and Cawthorn clearly tapped into a similar brand of deeply crazy and oblivious loyalty.
One hopes that Cawthorn’s political demise will embolden Edwards and some of his powerful Republican backers (like Senator Tom Tillis) to push back against this delusional extremism that’s infected the party of Lincoln.