In a runoff election Tuesday night, Madison Cawthorn unexpectedly crushed Lynda Bennett to be the Republican nominee for North Carolina’s 11th District, a safe Republican seat in western North Carolina.
The most interesting immediate thing about Madison Cawthorn is that he is younger than YOU! (Maybe.) Hawthorn was born in 1995, and will turn the requisite 25 years of age later this year. That means that he is, at the present moment, as I type this story, as we live and breathe, a 24-year-old person, who is almost certainly going to Congress. The Pew Research Center classifies those born in 1995 as part of the last years of the millennial generation, so this may not be the first Zoomer member of Congress. But that all-important moment (“the Singularity”) is approaching.
Cawthorn, who is very conservative on every issue, has an interesting story. He was nominated to go to the U.S. Naval Academy at 18, but a car crash in 2014 left him a paraplegic. His bills, he said, left him $3 million in medical debt as a teenager; he has since become a motivational speaker. As he told the Washington Examiner in a recent profile, he hopes his experience can allow him “to be the face of the Republican Party when it comes to healthcare.” (The health care section of his website says the following, on health care: “I believe patients and doctors, certainly not government bureaucrats, should be in charge of health care decisions. I’m for expanding choice and competition in our health care system. I strongly oppose the Democrats’ plans to create socialized medicine.” Well, sure, a new face.)
What’s delightful about Cawthorn’s win, though, is how mad it’s going to make President Donald Trump at the person Cawthorn is replacing. North Carolina’s 11th District was previously represented by Mark Meadows, the former Freedom Caucus chairman who resigned from Congress earlier this year to serve as Trump’s chief of staff. Meadows had backed Bennett, a friend of his, and some North Carolina GOP observers suspected that the last-minute timing of his retirement announcement before the filing deadline was designed to benefit her. Meadows, further, convinced his boss, President Trump, to endorse Bennett. Trump recorded robocalls for her.
So there is now a 24-year-old Republican with a great story who’s about to be the beneficiary of both significant national press and a GOP marketing push as “the rising star counterweight to AOC” or some such (they’re both young, etc.). And Trump, at his chief’s prompting, will have endorsed the other candidate, who lost by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
It’s going to be an unpleasant few days for Mark Meadows.