Good riddance to Madison Cawthorn
Despite all of his obvious problems, Donald Trump backed him anyway, even posting a late defense of the serial screw-up on his Truth Social account. Cawthorn lost the GOP primary.
Tuesday night was a mixed bag for former President Donald Trump’s anointed ones. In Pennsylvania, State Sen. Doug Mastriano, who attended and helped organize the “Stop the Steal” rally before the Jan. 6 insurrection, won his primary race for governor. Trump endorsed him late in the race, as he was surging.
Trump’s pick also took the prize in North Carolina, where Rep. Ted Budd won his primary for U.S. Senate.
But in Idaho, his choice for governor, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin — who unapologetically delivered an address at a white nationalist rally — lost big-time to incumbent Gov. Brad Little.
It was another loss for Trump in North Carolina, though, that made the air feel a little crisper, birds sound a little sweeter, and coffee hit a little different this morning: the scandal-ridden, law-breaking, fake orgy narc, Trump youth Germanophile and recent video star Madison Cawthorn was primaried right out of his 11th District House seat by Republican state Sen. Chuck Edwards.
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Now, it’s safe to say Cawthorn was a uniquely flawed candidate. In essence, he was a clown car personified, and he played all the clowns.
Twice he was stopped at an airport for attempting to carry a firearm through security, and there were reportedly four occasions in one month when he brought an illegal knife onto North Carolina school grounds.
He’s had multiple driving infractions, including driving with a revoked license, his third traffic charge in five months.
That would be a lot for any one lawmaker, but then stuff gets really weird.
There were the beyond-creepy posts from his vacation at Hitler’s summer home. He wrote that visiting “the Fuhrer’s” house was on his “bucket list for awhile,” and “did not disappoint.”
He seemed to hit a big nerve among Republicans in the House when he claimed, seemingly out of nowhere, that he’d been invited to orgies by members of Congress and watched several of them snort cocaine. He later told House Leader Kevin McCarthy those stories were exaggerated.
Then came a raft of videos — one in which he’s naked, grinding on top of another man, which he called a “crass” joke, and another in which he’s seen with his male scheduler’s hand on his crotch while driving.
It’s a lot, and it’s hard to imagine a more cartoonish figure ending up in Congress, but the 26-year-old certainly made the most of his time there.
His ouster should have been a formality, but in fact, he lost to Edwards by less than two points. Despite all of his obvious problems, Trump backed him anyway, even posting a late defense of the serial screw-up on his Truth Social account, saying Cawthorn had made “foolish mistakes,” but “Let’s give Madison a second chance!”
If it sometimes feels inevitable that we’re stuck with GOP kooks and creeps like Cawthorn, Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia, Lauren Boebert in Colorado and dozens more, Cawthorn’s primary is a sliver of hope.
In the perfect conditions, even the loudest, attention-seeking, Trump-backed MAGA stars can be taken out by Republicans.
In North Carolina, Cawthorn’s antics bothered voters, but it was his perceived absenteeism, record of missing votes, and his failed attempt at running in a newly-drawn conservative district nearby that may have sealed his fate.
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While he had a huge national spotlight, Trump’s backing and some hometown fans, he didn’t have a huge base of support in his district that could help him fend off the more traditional Republican candidate and campaign of Edwards.
And he earned the ire of Republican leadership in his state. Many joined together to back Edwards — including Sen. Thom Tillis, who probably had the biggest impact on Cawthorn’s future. He’d been outspoken about his frustration and disregard for Cawthorn over the months leading up to the election. He called for investigations into Cawthorn’s alleged wrongdoings. His PAC ran an attack ad against Cawthorn, calling him “an attention-seeking embarrassment” whose “antics help him but hurt us. Lying about conservatives, stolen valor, Madison Cawthorn lies for the limelight.”
In the end, it was Tillis, not Trump, who North Carolina voters agreed with.
Now, this is hardly a playbook that conservatives and moderates who want to rid the GOP of its extremists and losers can run everywhere. Extremists and losers are still very much rewarded in the party of Trump.
But given the right circumstances, and the courage and willingness of a top Republican leader to take on one of his own, even if it means taking on Trump, it can be done. That’s good news.
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S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.