In an upset victory, a 24-year-old candidate won the Republican primary for former congressman Mark Meadows’s North Carolina district, beating a challenger handpicked by Meadows and backed by President Trump.
Madison Cawthorn is slated to win around two-thirds of the primary vote, according to the Associated Press. Cawthorn will turn 25 just before the November general elections, the legal age to serve in the House.
Meadows, who represented the district in the state’s western region for several terms, is now Trump’s chief-of-staff at the White House. The former congressman had chosen Lynda Bennett to run in his stead.
“I want to make something clear: I support our great president,” Cawthorn said on Tuesday night, appealing to supporters of challenger Lynda Bennett. President Trump made a robocall in support of Bennett.
“I do not believe this election has been a referendum on the president’s influence,” Cawthorn added. “The people of western North Carolina are wise and discerning. You observed both candidates and simply made the choice you believed is best for our district.”
Cawthorn is a real estate investor who was nominated at age 18 by Meadows for an appointment at the United States Naval Academy. However, a car crash left Cawthorn paralyzed from the waist down.
Cawthorn’s victory was one of two primaries on Tuesday in which a candidate backed by the president was defeated, marking the first time Republican primary voters rejected Trump’s endorsements. The second primary was won by Kentucky representative Thomas Massie, a libertarian who is running for a sixth term. Trump blasted Massie after the congressman forced House members to return to Washington, D.C. in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic to vote on an economic relief package.