Washington Examiner: Kinzinger says he 'made the difference' in Cawthorn's primary defeat

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) took credit for the recent primary defeat of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), calling his loss a “huge badge of honor” and noting his efforts to oppose Cawthorn likely “made the difference” in ensuring his defeat.

Kinzinger, a centrist, did not elaborate on how he contributed to Cawthorn's downfall but noted the irony of his contribution to primary challenger state Sen. Chuck Edwards’s victory when Cawthorn “did some tweet where he said he personally was going to take down [Kinzinger's] political career,” he said.

“I will say as a side note [his loss] is pretty ironic,” Kinzinger noted in an interview with Politico published Wednesday.

Kinzinger also said that he was not done intervening in Republican primary elections to support candidates aligned with his more centrist tendencies, bragging his political action committee, Country First PAC, has “over 150,000 members,” “chapters in every state,” and can turn out “over 5,000 volunteers.”

“Democracy-loving Republicans” will have to strike an “uneasy” alliance with Democrats to prevent candidates supportive of former President Donald Trump or conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 election from winning office, Kinzinger said.

Cawthorn also seemingly blamed Kinzinger for his defeat, sharing a post on Instagram last week accusing Country First PAC of contacting Democrats to “vote for RINOs” in open GOP primary contests. Primary elections in North Carolina are “semi-closed,” meaning voters registered with a particular political party can only vote in that party’s primary, while unaffiliated voters can choose to vote in either primary election.

Cawthorn narrowly lost the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District to Edwards on May 17.

Cawthorn, who has described himself as a pro-Trump “America First” conservative, and Kinzinger, one of the most outspoken anti-Trump Republicans in Congress, have long had a strained relationship. Cawthorn endorsed Kinzinger’s primary opponent last July before the Illinois congressman announced months later that he would not seek a seventh term in the House of Representatives. Kinzinger then praised Cawthorn’s loss to Edwards as “good for the country.”

Edwards is well positioned to win the general election in November. The state senator, who received 33.42% of the vote to Cawthorn’s 31.85%, had the backing of several members of the state’s GOP political establishment after a series of scandals severely tarnished the freshman lawmaker’s image, including one well-publicized incident in which Cawthorn was rebuked by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) after Cawthorn alleged in a podcast appearance that his colleagues in Congress used cocaine and participated in orgies.

Representatives for Kinzinger and Cawthorn did not respond to the Washington Examiner's requests for comment.


By Matthew Wilson

The original article can be found on the Washington Examiner's website here.