Politico: Madison Cawthorn sees the handiwork of Adam Kinzinger in his GOP primary loss. And Kinzinger is ready to take credit.
That's a 'zinger: Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) and his allies, looking back at the polarizing conservative's primary loss to GOP nominee Chuck Edwards last month, are pointing fingers at Rep. Adam Kinzinger's (R-Ill.) PAC. And the retiring Kinzinger is more than happy to take credit for Cawthorn's demise.
It's like rain on your election day: “It's a huge badge of honor, especially because before I announced I wasn't running again, Madison did some tweet where he said he personally was going to take down my political career. So … I will say as a side note, it is pretty ironic,” Kinzinger told POLITICO in an interview.
Whodunnit? Cawthorn took to Instagram recently to share a post from an allied social media account that cited Kinzinger’s PAC as playing a role in the North Carolina freshman’s primary ouster.
“Turns out Adam Kinzinger has been busy backstabbing the MAGA Base once again … His PAC 'Country First' contacts Democrats to vote for RINOs in the NC and GA primaries … Sadly it’s working,” Rogan O'Handley, who identifies as a “political influencer,” shared on social media. He claimed that 5,400 Democrats voted in Cawthorn’s primary in a race where he lost by 1,500 votes.
O'Handley also suggested Kinzinger’s PAC made a big difference in the primary race for Georgia’s secretary of state position, where incumbent Brad Raffensperger handily dispatched his Trump-backed challenger, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.). Cawthorn wrote a terse caption: “Close [GOP] primaries.”
Tell him it was me: Kinzinger said he is "fairly confident" that his efforts to turn out Democrats, independents and “disaffected” Republicans in the Cawthorn-Edwards primary "made the difference." Of course, it's impossible to fully quantify the impact of Kinzinger’s Country First PAC in a primary race also dominated by multiple episodes of personal misbehavior by Cawthorn, 26.
More to come: Kinzinger said he doesn’t want to spread his PAC too thin but plans to announce future involvement in more GOP primaries. To do this, he said, “democracy-loving Republicans” and Democrats will have to keep forging an “uneasy” alliance. (Notably, he and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney have forged their own alliance with Democrats on the Jan. 6 select committee.)
“We have over 150,000 members now and … over 5,000 volunteers that are showing up, that are actually helping on the ground and stuff — college chapters, state chapters in every state," he said. "We are not going too big, but I fully plan to engage in some where – in a general election – you have an anti-democratic candidate run.”
How they do it: In addition to spending, Kinzinger's PAC focuses on voter education, registration, and turnout in its efforts to oust “extremists on the ballot,” an initiative he started after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Maura Gillespie, a spokesperson for the PAC, shared in a statement: “Through ads, mailers, text messages, and more, Country First has reached tens of thousands of voters in Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia. And in Georgia, we got text responses from Democrats who said that they hadn't thought to do this (our Primary First strategy), but that it would make more sense to vote in the Republican primary instead. So, as a result, we saw that 35,693 Georgia voters who voted in a Dem or non-partisan primary in 2020, then voted in the GOP primary in 2022. And given the numbers for Raffensperger, if you subtracted those 35k votes from his total, he'd have been in a runoff.”
Stay tuned: “I don't think there's really been an effort like mine,” Kinzinger said. “We're gonna find the areas and do this right.”
By Olivia Beavers
The original article can be found on Politico's website here.