Trump-Backed Rep. Madison Cawthorn Loses GOP Primary For Reelection
SELMA, USA - APRIL 9: Madison Cawthorn speaks during former US President Donald Trump's rally sponsored by Save America with Ted Budd, Madison Cawthorn, Bo Hines, Dan Bishop, Mark Robinson and Greg Murphy in Selma, NC, on April 9, 2022. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) conceded his bid for reelection on Tuesday, losing the Republican primary to GOP state Sen. Chuck Edwards.

Cawthorn’s campaign was buffeted in recent weeks by a number of leaks about his personal behavior prior to holding office, including the leak of a nude video. Cawthorn called Edwards to concede defeat late Tuesday after results showed him trailing by about two points with almost all precincts reporting.

Cawthorn lost despite earning and keeping an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Cawthorn last year, and reupped his support for the incumbent on Monday after Cawthorn had weathered weeks of negative press about his personal character.

“When Madison was first elected to Congress, he did a great job,” Trump said in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social. “Recently, he made some foolish mistakes, which I don’t believe he’ll make again…let’s give Madison a second chance!”

At the beginning of May less than two weeks before the primary, a nude video of a man believed to be Cawthorn surfaced online. The video purports to show a naked Cawthorn in bed drag his groin over another man’s head and begin thrusting. The 26-year-old lawmaker appeared to confirm the video’s veracity while dismissing it as “blackmail.”

“A new hit against me just dropped,” he said in a tweet. “Years ago, in this video, I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish, and joking. That’s it.”

“I’m NOT backing down. I told you there would be a drip drip campaign. Blackmail won’t win. We will,” he added.