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Cawthorn whips Bennett in big upset in GOP runoff; Trump calls to praise him
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 22:51

From Staff Reports 

In a major upset, a 24-year-old real estate investment CEO on June 23 won the Republican primary runoff for a Western North Carolina congressional seat over President Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate for the nomination.

Madison Cawthorn won nearly two-thirds of the vote over  Lynda Bennett to complete an upset for the GOP nomination in the 11th Congressional District. Bennett had received the president’s backing on Twitter and the earlier endorsement of Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who until recently had held the seat.

FoxNews reported on June 24 that Cawthorn said that the president called to congratulate him on a “beautiful” victory.

FoxNews added, “Cawthorn was asked on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ if he’d heard from Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who — along with the president — endorsed Cawthorn’s opponent Lynda Bennett for the 11th Congressional District seat, which was vacated when Meadows left to join the administration.

“‘I have not heard from Mr. Meadows but I have heard from the president so far. It was an honor getting a call from Air Force One,’ Cawthorn said.

“‘He (Trump) congratulated me, he was talking about how amazing a victory it was. He defined it as “beautiful,” Cawthorn added. ‘He was talking about how impressive it was that we were able to overcome so many large obstacles that we did.’”

In a victory statement on June 23, Cawthorn stressed that his landslide win was not a rebuke of the president.

Cawthorn called for the runoff after he finished second to Bennett in a 12-candidate primary in early March. Bennett had failed to get more than 30 percent of the vote needed to win outright. The scheduled May runoff was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cawthorn, who won’t reach the constitutionally-mandated age of 25 to serve in the House until August, will face Democrat Moe Davis, a former military prosecutor, in the Nov. 3 general election.

Homeschooled in Hendersonville, Cawthorn had planned to head to the U.S. Naval Academy before he was paralyzed from the abdomen down after a 2014 car accident, leaving him wheelchair-bound. 

He told the Asheville Citizen Times in January that the experience allows him to connect naturally with voters. “I’ve been through adversity,” he told the ACT. “I have empathy. I know what suffering people go through. I care about others and will work in Washington to get government out of the way so they can take of themselves.”



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