Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) has come under fire from his fellow Republicans, who are angry, frustrated and deeply concerned about his conduct since getting elected as the youngest member of Congress.
The freshman lawmaker quickly alienated aides after he won the election and backed Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his own election loss, and those who know him say Cawthorn has been on a downward spiral ever since, reported Politico Magazine.
The magazine spoke to dozens of associates in Washington and back home in North Carolina, who all tended to agree Cawthorn had not recovered from a 2014 car crash that left him in constant pain and unable to walk:
“'He’s not OK,' said Michele Woodhouse, the former Republican chair of the 11th District who’s now running against him. 'He’s very unwell,' said a Republican strategist familiar with Cawthorn. 'The recovery is not complete,' said David Rhode, a fellow Hendersonville native who knew Cawthorn pre-politics but now works for Wendy Nevarez, another one of Cawthorn’s current opponents. 'He’s got some deep issues that will probably never go away,' said Chuck Archerd, a Republican who ran against him in 2020. 'It’s never going to be just totally fine,' said a friend."
Cawthorn has puzzled colleagues by ignoring advice and resisting mentorship offers, and his personal conduct has angered Republican leadership and drawn attention from law enforcement, and associates say his quick rise has gone to his head.
“He has an extreme version of what I always call successful person syndrome,” said a Republican strategist familiar with Cawthorn and his campaign. “I’ve seen this through the years, but not to this degree, because people I think just don’t have the trauma that he has.”
That has left Cawthorn with the idea that he knows everything, according to Henderson County sheriff George Erwin, an early supporter
“He hears you,” Erwin explained. “But he doesn’t listen.”
Many of the sources who spoke to Politico Magazine felt that Cawthorn was emotionally unprepared to become a congressman.
“Politics is like a vice amplifier," said a GOP consultant who knows Cawthorn, "and then when you’re a young man who has a terrible accident like that, and your identity is kind of stripped from you, all of that is amplified even more.”
Cawthorn is facing a steep challenge in the Republican primary race, and Karen Wilson, a former supporter whose partner Bruce O'Connell is one of those challengers, said she recently spent time with the congressman and thinks he would be "relieved" to lose.
"I got that clear sense," Wilson said. “Think about it, what he’s gone through. He’s in pain when he’s sitting there with you. He has to do things because he’s in pain.”
His other rivals expressed a similar sense of concern.
“Madison,” said retired Army colonel Rod Honeycutt, “is a young man in trouble.”
“As a Christian,” said challenger Matthew Burril, “it is to me very painful to watch his spiral.”
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Challengers worry about Madison Cawthorn and feel he'd be 'relieved' to lose www.youtube.com