According to a report by the AP, Democrats, not Republicans, beat Madison Cawthorn in the GOP primary in NC-11. Their analysis shows that 5,400 of the early votes came from people who voted in the 2020 Democratic primary. Cawthorn lost by fewer than 1,500 votes, indicating that the crossover votes almost certainly did him in.
We shouldn’t take anything away from the Republicans who put energy into defeating him. Senator Thom Tillis, Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, and House Speaker Tim Moore all endorsed Chuck Edwards who gave up a safe senate seat to try to rid us of Cawthorn. In addition, Republican operatives worked to keep Cawthorn from winning re-election. We should celebrate a bipartisan victory against reactionary Trumpism.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the anti-Trump Congressman from Illinois, enlisted his organization, Country First, to urge Democrats to vote against Trump Republicans like Cawthorn to protect democracy. Kinzinger is a patriot who fully understands the threat to our democracy and has the courage to stand up to his party. Like Liz Cheney, he’s been bashed by follow Republicans and dismissed by the progressive Democrats. He’s willing to give up his political home to fight for the survival of our country.
Kinzinger’s organization had a similar impact in Georgia, except instead of defeating an incumbent, Country First helped convince Democrats to support Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger from a Trump-backed challenger. Kinzinger is showing people how to keep their political beliefs in tact while opposing the anti-democratic authoritarians that have infiltrated the GOP. He’s leading the fight to take back his party and he’s enlisting support from his erstwhile political adversaries.
Nobody is asking the Democrats who supported Edwards and Raffensperger to become Republicans. Kinzinger and company are asking them to put down the Trumpist insurrection with votes instead of bullets. They are harnessing the power of democracy and proving Americans’ commitment to it is still alive. In doing so, they are also encouraging other Republicans to stand up to Trump and his anti-democratic forces.
The Democrats who voted for Raffensperger and Edwards in May will almost certainly vote against them in November. And that’s ok. The goal was to make sure that the choice is between candidates who are committed to preserving our democracy. Those Democrats can vehemently disagree with the Republicans they supported on important issues, but they agree on the fundamental framework that selects our leaders.
Democrats who might feel uneasy about voting in a Republican primary can also take comfort in knowing that they are probably helping their party in the long run, not just protecting democracy. Republicans have benefitted from an anti-democratic, pro-Trump movement that brought out very infrequent voters in both 2016 and 2020. Those voters will likely start to crawl back into their holes once they no longer have reactionary demagogues on the ballot.
The defeat of Cawthorn and the win for Raffensperger should be seen as a triumph for the forces of democracy over the forces of reaction. The victory is a glimmer of light in a dark time. Conservatives and liberals formed temporary alliances that defeated illiberalism without sacrificing core beliefs. They showed that the battle of ideas that is the basis of a healthy democracy can take a brief pause to preserve the system that enables our freedom and liberty.
We’ve still got a long way to go, but at least we can see one way forward. Kinzinger and company were opportunistic and exploited a weakness by joining forces from both the left and right to defeat anti-democratic reactionaries. Cynics and purists on both sides will down play the outcomes, but the May primary results in Georgia and NC-11 were victories for democracy. They showed that enough people understood the stakes and we’re willing to do what was necessary. That’s a sign of hope. I’ll take what I can get.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >
Madison Cawthorn was the cause of his defeat. He was his own worst enemy. He showed poor judgement and lack of ability to learn from his mistakes. To his chosen party, he was a lose cannon, which some more rational folks did not feel comfortable dealing on matters above his level of comprehension.
Unaffiliated means as a voter you are free to vote for the candidate who may be the most qualified. Madison was clearly not qualified to perform the duties expected from a Representative to the US Congress. In the final analyses, it makes no difference whether that person may or may not be a Republican or Democrat.
Thank God there are still folks out there who consider party loyalty secondary to loyalty to their country and the political process which made it. Some folks call these patriots. We are of desperate need of more of this type. And I do not have reference to the criminals who beat up capital and local DC Cops and destroyed valuable public owned historical properties, made illegal breaches of the sanctity of congressional offices. These are still criminals to be dealt with under the due process safeguards of the law and punished per the gravity of their crime.
No, Democrats did not beat Cawthorn. And they will not beat Chuck Edwards in November either. However, I will say that some former Democrats had the good sense to switch parties and join the Republican party once they realized their party is headed in the wrong direction.
And you don’t think Republicans do this to? They do.
He had sex with his cousin….
Did all those Democrats vote for rock solid conservative and GRNC 4 STAR (***) rated Chuck Edwards? I guess I have to thank them.
Switching parties by unaffiliated voters is what old Moscow Mitch would call the nuclear option. But I must agree. Something had to be done, before he took the Republican Party to a place where the usual lying and denying was ineffective. Madison like Trump, was a disgrace to the United States, the political process and in his case the State of North Carolina.
Confused. How do Democrats vote in Republican primaries in NC or vice versa? Wouldn’t those voters who voted in D primary in 2020 but R primary in 2022 have to have changed parties from D to R or from D to unaffiliated or have been unaffiliated both times?
Unaffiliated voters can vote in either primary, and Independents now outnumber both parties in registrations.
Frankly I don’t care how he lost, only that he did. What a wretched excuse for a human.
Short answer to Debra is yes. Those voters had to either change their party affiliation or be unaffiliated. I live in NC-11 and decided after much thought not to change my (Democratic) affiliation. Not sure that was the right call, but I sure am glad Cawthorn went down.
YOu are one of the best in a long line of Anson good people!
I’m sure it’s like my primary here in Alabama when I walked in they asked me did I want a republican ballot or democratic ballot I could have either one. Thank God Kissinger got out there and got people involved.
Yes, if you’re registered Unaffiliated in NC you get to pick a primary ballot for either party