Madison Cawthorn, the paraplegic survivor of a near-fatal car crash, achieved instant star power after a June primary in which he toppled the candidate endorsed by both President Donald Trump and former GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, who resigned the seat to become the president’s chief of staff. Armed with his newfound fame, Cawthorn has centered his campaign on a scathing critique of his own party, calling it xenophobic, feckless and devoid of empathy — all while aligning himself closely with a president accused of embodying those very traits.
“I definitely am running against the Republican Party,” he said in an interview this week, calling the GOP “timid” on everything from race to immigration to health care. “They’re a party that doesn’t try to tackle real issues. They are a party that always says no to things.”
Yet Cawthorn himself has become a vilified figure on the left, especially after his campaign unveiled a website last month with racist language. His opponent has taken to comparing him to the late senator from South Carolina who ran for president on a segregationist platform.
“He is a fresh new package, but the things that come out of his mouth sound like Strom Thurmond from the 1960s,” said Democratic nominee Moe Davis, a retired Air Force colonel. “There’s nothing original about his sexist, racist views.”