madison cawthorn
Madison Cawthorn (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Republicans are hoping Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) loses his North Carolina primary race next week, but at least one GOP colleague thinks they should oust him even if he wins.

GOP lawmakers are privately discussing ways to sideline the first-term lawmaker if he comes out on top of a crowded Republican primary field, with some saying he should be relegated to less favorable committees or served warning about his headline-grabbing antics, according to CNN interviews with about a dozen House Republicans.

"I met with the guy and said, 'Don't break the law again. You break the law one more time, I'm going to start calling for you to be kicked out,'" said one lawmaker affiliated with the party's Donald Trump wing. "And I don't mean kicked out of (the House Freedom) Caucus, I mean kicked out of Conference -- voting him out. He's a black eye on our conference."

That lawmaker was furious that Cawthorn had twice been cited for bringing a gun to an airport and was caught a second time for driving with a revoked license, but he said the idea of ousting the young congressman doesn't seem to have broad support, while less severe punishments remain on the table.

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"If he gets a committee at all, it will be some obscure assignment," said a senior Republican. "He has zero chance (of getting on a good committee). We would be mocked as a conference if we put him on anything meaningful."

Republicans are openly rooting against his primary campaign for a second term in hopes that voters will make the tough decisions for them.

"It's kind of up to him to get his act together," said another Republican lawmaker. "But at some point in time, the conference is going to have to cut its losses. My hope is that North Carolina-11 will deal with it. But if they don't, my argument has always been: we should."