By KELSEY WALSH and KENDALL KARSON, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Millennial real estate investor Madison Cawthorn won a Republican primary runoff for a western North Carolina congressional seat upsetting President Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate on Tuesday evening.
Cawthorn defeated Lynda Bennett, a real estate businesswoman in the district formerly occupied by Trump’s current Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. In December, Meadows made a surprise announcement that he will not run for reelection allowing for a primary runoff for the seat. The president and Meadows both supported Lynda Bennet.
If elected, Cawthorn, 24, would be the youngest member of congress.
Cawthorn, a resident of Hendersonville, North Carolina, was nominated to the Naval Academy by Meadows. However, in 2014, Cawthorn’s plans were altered when he was in a near fatal car accident that left him paralyzed.
The accident is a prominent narrative in his run for office. In his first campaign video, Cawthorn’s family members tell the story of his accident and his main cover image on his campaign website is a photograph of him sitting in his wheelchair dressed in hunting gear with a rifle on his shoulder.
Cawthorn declares himself a Trump supporter and constitutional conservative. He champions his youth and fights against liberal leftists.
“And I believe America is worth fighting for. Our faith, our freedoms, our American values are under assault leftists like Nancy Pelosi and AOC. I’m pro Trump, pro life, and post Second Amendment. I’m a fighter, like so many of you I’ve known great adversity and I’ll be a strong voice for faith, family, freedom,” Cawthorn says in his campaign video.
On Wednesday morning, Cawthorn was asked on Morning Joe why Meadows endorsed his opponent during the primary, “All I know is Mr. Meadows had been very good to me throughout my life. I wish I could have had his endorsement early on, but it appears that we did not need it.”
Cawthorn also said Trump called to congratulate him Tuesday evening, called his victory “beautiful” and “impressive” and noted that the young candidate’s campaign was able to overcome so many obstacles.
In November, Cawthorn will face Air Force veteran Morris “Moe” Davis. Davis was the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Cawthorn’s campaign was boosted by a consulting firm created by a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence.
First reported by The Hill, Bill Smith, who was Pence’s chief of staff during his tenure as governor of Indiana and on Capitol Hill, posted on Facebook that his new consulting firm launched earlier this year, Sheridan Strategy Group, helped propel Cawthorn to his victory Tuesday.
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