Madison Cawthorn, a 24-year-old real estate investment CEO, won a Republican primary runoff election Tuesday in western North Carolina in the race to fill the congressional seat of former Rep. Mark Meadows, who stepped down in March to become President Trump’s chief of staff.
And in winning the runoff contest, Cawthorn upset Lynda Bennett, who was endorsed earlier this month by the president.
Cawthorn's win – which was called by the AP less than two hours after the polls closed -- marks a rare victory over a candidate backed by Trump.
Bennet had made the president’s endorsement her pinned tweet on Twitter.
And she took to Twitter Tuesday morning to urge people in the district to “Get out and vote today for Pro-Trump conservative Lynda Bennett. Lynda is the only candidate endorsed by President Trump, and she's the only candidate with a proven record of business experience to help carry out the President's agenda.”
Bennett, a Haywood County real estate company owner, was also endorsed by Meadows – the former House Freedom Caucus chair who announced in December that he wouldn’t run for a fifth two-year term representing North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District – as well as by conservative Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
But Cawthorn emphasized that he’s a strong Trump supporter and stressed that he wouldn’t be beholden to anyone in the nation’s capital if won election to Congress. He won the backing of a slate of local officials and also received some support from a super PAC that backs candidates allied with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Cawthorn finished second to Bennett in a whopping 12-candidate GOP primary in early March. The May runoff was delayed until June due to the coronavirus 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 November.