(The Hill) — U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) has conceded to his primary rival, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, marking the end of a brief yet controversial tenure in the House that earned him critics on both sides of the aisle.
Cawthorn’s campaign confirmed that the lawmaker had conceded to Edwards. The Associated Press has yet to call the race.
Heading into the Tuesday primary, Cawthorn faced a crowded field of Republican rivals, though he remained the favorite to clinch the nomination in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.
But the many controversies and missteps that haunted Cawthorn’s reelection bid appeared to catch up to him.
Cawthorn drew a handful of GOP rivals last year after he said that he would change districts to run for a seat closer to Charlotte. He returned to his old district, however, after state courts struck down North Carolina’s new House map.
Since then, Cawthorn’s political difficulties only continued to mount.
He angered many of his fellow House Republicans earlier this year after he suggested in a podcast interview that his colleagues were attending orgies and snorting cocaine. He has also been the subject of a series of salacious revelations, including a leaked nude video that he dismissed as “blackmail.”
In two separate incidents this year he was cited for driving with a suspended license and attempting to take a gun through an airport security checkpoint. And he drew headlines for calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.”
Cawthorn sought to cast the revelations and attacks as an effort by the so-called Washington establishment to oust him.
But Cawthorn also made powerful enemies within his home state. The top Republicans in the state General Assembly endorsed Edwards, as did U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
Retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) called him an “embarrassment” during a March appearance on CNN.
Nevertheless, Cawthorn retained the backing of former President Trump, who endorsed him last year and doubled down on his support ahead of the primary, saying that the first-term congressman made some “foolish mistakes” but deserved a “second chance.”
That endorsement, however, wasn’t enough to save him from defeat on Tuesday.