Opinion: The Woodshed

Madison Cawthorn begins campaign in new district by insulting voters

Congressman Madison Cawthorn speaks at the NCGOP Convention in Greenville in 2021
Congressman Madison Cawthorn speaks at the NCGOP Convention in Greenville in 2021

When Congressman Madison Cawthorn confirmed through a video that he would change congressional districts, he began by telling Republican voters in the 13th Congressional District that they could not make a wise selection for Congress without him.

“I have every confidence in the world that regardless of where I run, the 14th Congressional District will send a patriotic fighter to D.C.,” Cawthorn said in his Twitter post. But knowing the political realities of the 13th District, I’m afraid that another establishment, go-along-to-get-along Republican, will prevail there.”

The message is a direct one: The people in the far most western part of the state (NC-14) are smart enough to send a patriotic fighter to Congress because they already did with him. However, absent intervention from Cawthorn, the rubes, and RINOS in Gaston, Polk, Rutherford, McDowell, Cleveland, and Burke, are likely to choose an establishment go-along-to-get-along Republican who is not a patriotic fighter.

Cawthorn further states, “I will not let that happen,” as if the voters’ opinions are irrelevant, and he solely gets to say who belongs in Congress, in not just one district, but two.

In his two-minute and 10-second video, he makes no appeal to the voters in the new 13th as to why he wants to represent them and why he is the best person for the job.

He sets no goals, legislative or otherwise, to deliver for the people of the 13th. He oddly says that his district change is in part made after consulting “his constituents.” Cawthorn talked to current voters, and they encouraged him to leave them and go elsewhere? Not sure I would fall back on that talking point while campaigning.

Some voters in the new 13th district are not taking kindly to the paternalistic comments from Cawthorn, including Susan Tillis, wife of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis. “I can assure you that those of us in the new 13th didn’t need any intervention, and we are capable of making our own decisions,” tweeted Susan Tillis.

Cawthorn’s video raises other questions.

Who is the establishment “go-along-to-get-along Republicans?”

Is successful Republican State House Speaker Tim Moore an “establishment, go-along-to-get-along Republican?”

The same state Speaker that will gavel into law the largest tax cut in North Carolina history against the objections of Gov. Roy Cooper this year. The same Speaker responsible for blocking Medicaid expansion as recently as a few weeks ago? The same Speaker contemplating impeaching State Supreme Court and other judges for outrageous conduct?

Was Moore a go-along-to-get-along Republican when in 2019 he walked away from budget negotiations with Cooper and the teacher’s union rather than giving in to their hostage-taking methods?

Do people in Cleveland County think that they have elected a “go-along-to-get-along Republican in Moore for the last two decades?

Do the other 68 Republican members of the State House think the leader they support is an “establishment, go-along-to-get-along Republican?”

Since the voters in this district, are according to Cawthorn, inclined to make bad decisions, do those bad decisions include selecting Senators Ted Alexander, R-Lincoln, Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston, and State Reps. Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston, John Torbett, R-Gaston, David Rogers, R-Rutherford, Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, and others? Because if the GOP voters are not smart enough to select the “right” GOP person for Congress, what does it say about the voter’s decision to choose these conservative Republican legislators?

Like Moore, these legislators in the new 13th have a great list of accomplishments that have advanced conservative public policy: tax cuts, school choice expansion, cutting red tape, enhanced private property protections, and passing voter I.D.

Brent Woodcox, a Republican legislative attorney, and frequent political commentator tweeted: “What conservative policy has Cawthorn ever delivered for his district? He’s barely even a lawmaker. He just plays one on TV.”

Chris Cooper, professor of political science at Western Carolina University, told CJ:

He ran as a pro-environment Republican who promised to bring the Republican party to young people through a new social media friendly brand of conservatism. He talked of his respect for establishment conservatives and was visibly pleased to speak at the most establishment event of all —the Republican National convention. Soon, however, he turned into a politician consumed with his own brand at the expense of everything else.

This points to an interesting paradox for Cawthorn:

What if the voters in the 13th don’t see the error of their ways, don’t recognize Cawthorn as their political savior, and choose another Republican to represent them? It may just be that Republicans in the 13th, the ones Madison Cawthorn does not trust to make the right decision without him, may make a decision he does not like with him.