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- Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis are facing off to replace Mark Meadows in North Carolina's 11th Congressional District.
- Cawthorn, 25, is a motivational speaker, investor, and staunch supporter of President Trump positioning himself as the voice of the next generation of the GOP.
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North Carolina's 11th District is located in the western part of the state and has traditionally leaned Republican but was recently redrawn, following a court order, to be slightly more favorable to Democrats.
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Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Morris "Moe" Davis are competing in the race to replace former Rep. Mark Meadows, who left Congress to serve as White House chief of staff, in North Carolina's 11th Congressional District.
Cawthorn, who just turned 25 on August 1, made national headlines when he defeated realtor Lynda Bennett — Meadows' hand-picked candidate for the seat who had also been endorsed by President Donald Trump — by over 30 points in a June 23 primary runoff.
Cawthorn became an investor and motivational speaker after being paralyzed in a car accident in 2014. Since winning his primary runoff, Cawthorn has quickly gained a massive following on social media and been branded as a rising star in the GOP, earning a coveted speaking slot at the Republican National Convention.
Cawthorn, who would be the youngest member of the US House if elected, has also positioned himself as a counterweight to the burgeoning youth progressive moment and a bridge between the GOP's leadership and millennial and Generation Z Republicans. In addition to speaking at the RNC, he's made frequent appearances on Fox News and has done interviews with prominent conservative figures, including Glenn Beck and Charlie Kirk.
Davis, 59, is a retired Air Force colonel who had a 25-year career in the military. He worked on national security issues under both the Bush and Obama administrations, including as a Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, and more recently has been a Howard University Law Professor.
An ardent Trump critic on social media, Davis' platform includes the need to expand affordable healthcare, improve education, and invest in infrastructure in Western North Carolina.
Cawthorn has already faced a fair amount of controversy over his remarks on race and racism during his short political career. In August, Jezebel published a story accusing Cawthorn of inflating his resumé and professional accomplishments, and pointed to some of his social media postings and previous statements as potentially espousing racist views.
In an interview with Blue Ridge Public Radio over the summer, Cawthorn described rhe Asheville city council resolution approving a reparations program as "divisive," and said "600,000 Americans gave their life to free slaves and you're going to tell me that's not enough?" in response. He also claimed that liberals "want people to be able to get into college with lower grades and lower school scores simply because they are African American."
Then, in October, Tim Miller, a staff writer for The Bulwark, wrote that an attack website on Davis set up by Cawthorn's campaign attacked Tom Fielder, a local journalist in the Asheville area who runs the AVL Watchdog nonprofit newsroom and has covered Cawthorn's race as having "quit his academia job in Boston to work for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office."
North Carolina's 11th District is located in the western region of the state and has traditionally leaned Republican.
A court ordered the North Carolina legislature to redraw its congressional district maps in 2019, ruling that the previous map unfairly favored Republicans. In addition to creating two new likely Democratic districts, the redistricting made others, like the 11th District, slightly more favorable to Democrats.
While the 11th is still solidly in the Republican column, its new boundaries now include all of Buncombe County, which is home to the Democratic-leaning city of Asheville, which voted for Clinton by 14 points in 2016.
Trump would have carried the district under its new, current lines by 17 points, 57% to 40%, over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The money race:
Cawthorn has raised around $3.6 million, spent over $3.3 million, and has over $262,000 in cash on hand, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, compared to Davis, who raised around over $1.7 million, spent over $1.3 million, and has around $396,000 in cash on hand.
What some of the experts say:
Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics and Inside Elections rate the race between Cawthorn and Davis as "likely Republican," while the Cook Political Report rates it as "leans Republican."
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