madison cawthorn
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is leaving Congress after one term, but other Republicans don't seem to care much what he does with the rest of his life.

The 27-year-old lawmaker lost his GOP primary after a series of personal missteps, including a pair of citations for driving on a revoked license and two more for taking a gun through an airport, and Republicans say his once-bright future has dimmed considerably, reported the Washington Post.

“[He lacks] attention to personal discipline and conduct,” said political consultant Paul Shumaker, who advised GOP primary winner Chuck Edwards over Cawthorn. “I’m talking about the speeding tickets, taking the gun back into the airport. It gives the impression of being above the law. To rebuild his career, he’s going to have to address and prove stability and credibility. Those are two litmus tests, and that’s a function of time.”

“Voters are willing to forgive,” Shumaker added. “But to seek forgiveness, you have to admit when you make a mistake.”

In addition to the citations, Cawthorn angered GOP leadership by claiming one colleague invited him to an orgy and another used cocaine in front of him, and opponents leaked videos during the primary campaign showing him engaging in sexually suggestive behavior with another man and wearing lingerie during a cruise ship game.

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"He needs to get his act together, he needs to grow up,” said syndicated radio host John Fredericks, who backed Cawthorn in 2020 but didn't in this year's primary. “After all the shenanigans, he deserved to get beat. In two years, he demonstrated an incredible lack of maturity.”

Two of his four district offices haven't been regularly staffed since narrowly losing his primary election, and he was the only member of North Carolina's congressional delegation who didn't sign a Sept. 30 letter asking President Joe Biden to declare an emergency in the state after Hurricane Ian, and he didn't even turn up at Donald Trump's rally there last month.

“He’s not anywhere to be found,” said primary opponent Michele Woodhouse, the 11th District’s former Republican chair. “I don’t hear from anyone that there’s any great interest in what Madison Cawthorn is doing.”

The GOP chair in Henderson County, where Cawthorn owns a home, said she hasn't had contact with him since the primary.

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“We have moved on," said GOP county chair Sharon Brooks.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether Cawthorn engaged in insider trading related to a “Let’s Go Brandon” cryptocurrency he promoted, and his campaign spending raised eyebrows with $4.4 million in payments to cigar bars, gun ranges, taxidermists and luxury hotels.

“All he has done is fly around the country and live high on the hog,” said retired Henderson County sheriff George Erwin, a key early supporter. “Madison Cawthorn did this to himself. He could have gone up there and been something, but he blew it. Nobody talks about him anymore. As time goes on, he will fade away.”

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