Top Republicans Back Primary Challenge To Unseat Madison Cawthorn

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Prominent Republicans are backing or considering throwing their support behind GOP primary challenges to Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), a first-term member of Congress who has defined his time in office so far with a series of embarrassing public relations debacles. Cawthorn, for instance, recently referred to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a “thug,” a comment that the Congressman made amid Zelenskyy’s participation in the ongoing defense of his country against Russia’s invasion. Cawthorn eventually sort of walked back that remark — but not before the damage was done, further dragging down his already essentially rock-bottom credibility levels. Cawthorn has even been criminally charged with driving with a revoked license — which is a misdemeanor offense but means that a sitting GOP Congressman has an upcoming court date.

And the list goes on. Cawthorn also recently claimed that he’d been invited to orgies and been exposed to cocaine use among Republicans in D.C. Those now supporting Cawthorn’s hypothetical exit from Congress even include one of his home state’s Republican Senators, Thom Tillis, who is supporting North Carolina GOP state Sen. Chuck Edwards in his primary bid against Cawthorn. Edwards also enjoys the support of North Carolina state Senate leader Sen. Phil Berger (R) and state House speaker Rep. Tim Moore (R) — both of the top Republicans in the state legislature in North Carolina. As Tillis explained his perspective, “It comes down to focus on the district, producing results for the district, and in my opinion, Mr. Cawthorn hasn’t demonstrated much in the way of results over the last 18 months.” CNN adds that other Republican legislators are “considering” getting behind a primary challenge to Cawthorn.

Even House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — who’s not exactly someone known for taking compelling moral stances on things — is apparently fed up. After the comments about orgies and cocaine circulated, McCarthy spoke with Cawthorn, telling reporters afterwards: “He’s got to turn himself around… I just told him he’s lost my trust, and he’s going to have to earn it back. I laid out everything I find that’s unbecoming… He’s got a lot of members upset. You can’t just make statements out there.” Although North Carolina’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Richard Burr, indicated he would not be formally supporting anyone in the Republican primary for Cawthorn’s Congressional seat, he’s no fan: “On any given day, he’s an embarrassment,” Burr told CNN of Cawthorn. And all of this is coming from a party that’s apparently mostly fine with brazen lies about the integrity of the last presidential election and whatever Trump is doing on any given day — so clearly, Cawthorn has irked some people.

One complication for those hoping to unseat Cawthorn through a Republican primary challenge is that there are over half a dozen Republican contenders on the ballot, raising the prospect that Cawthorn could win re-election simply because his opponents fail to sufficiently coalesce behind a single candidate. In the meantime, he’s not alone among House Republicans in doing outrageous things, even if he’s one of those seemingly most at odds with his fellow GOP’ers — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), for instance, recently spoke at an event down in Florida where others promoted white supremacy, and when pressed about this serious issue, she said she’s “not going to play the guilt by association game in which you demand every conservative should justify anything ever said by anyone they’ve ever shared a room with” — standing by her appearance.