Answer Man: Could Cawthorn run a write-in campaign? Have a farewell tour?

U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., speaks before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a rally, Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Selma, N.C.
U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., speaks before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a rally, Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Selma, N.C.

Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart-aleck answers and the real deal:

Question: For most of the last year and a half, our Congressman, Madison Cawthorn, has been in the news a great deal. In the last month I've seen little or nothing. Of course, I know he lost his primary bid for a second term. What is he doing with the last six months of his two-year term as our congressman? Will he be doing any sort of a farewell tour to various locations in the district to visit with constituents? A friend of mine is planning in the November election to vote for him on the ballot as a write-in candidate. To the best of my knowledge, Rep. Cawthorn has not endorsed anyone for the election. Therefore, I'm wondering if he is encouraging people to vote for him as a write-in candidate? At the very least, I'm wondering how representative Cawthorn feels about constituents voting for him as a write-in candidate? I would really appreciate it if the Answer Man could investigate this.

My answer: Well, I guess there are a few schools in the district Cawthorn has not carried a knife into, if he'd like to add them to a "farewell tour."

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Real answer: This question assumes I might actually get a response from Cawthorn, which is, shall we say, unlikely. When you actively encourage unaffiliated voters to vote for someone other than Cawthorn in the primary, you tend to get dropped off the Christmas card list.

So no, I did not hear back from Cawthorn's spokesman by deadline.

Regarding any endorsements, Cawthorn on primary election night did indicate he'll support the winner, state Sen. Chuck Edwards. Luke Ball, then Cawthorn's spokesman, said Cawthorn anticipated other Republicans backing the state senator, and Cawthorn would focus now on helping Edwards "keep N.C. 11 red."

We'll have to wait and see what that means. I can't really see Cawthorn hitting the campaign trail for Edwards, or for that matter, Edwards wanting him to. Cawthorn generated more scandals in a year and a half in office than Bill Clinton did in eight years as president.

OK, maybe not, 'cause Clinton was a scandal machine. But he came close.

But who knows, maybe Edwards would enjoy having a guy who can't stop speeding, carrying guns into airports or getting caught making embarrassing videos out on the stump on his behalf.

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Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper says a write-in campaign from Cawthorn is highly unlikely, partly because he did at least tacitly offer support to Edwards on election night.

"Reason two is he hasn’t been campaigning," Cooper said. "And reason three is he lost his own primary — and those are the people who like him the most."

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By that, Cooper means Cawthorn is likely to generate even less support in the November general election, when Edwards will square off against Democratic opponent Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, a Buncombe County Board of Commissioners member.

Cooper also noted the North Carolina State Board of Elections has a slew of rules to follow, forms to sign and petitions to circulate for write-in candidates. You can find all this here: www.ncsbe.gov/candidates/petitions/write-candidate-petitions.

Congressman Madison Cawthorn greets his supporters on May 17, 2022.
Congressman Madison Cawthorn greets his supporters on May 17, 2022.

A fact sheet on this site states regarding a potential U.S. House of Representatives run: "The petitioner’s first step is to complete and submit a petition request form. A person who seeks to become a write-in candidate for one of these offices must submit a petition signed by 250 qualified North Carolina voters registered in the affected county or counties. Completed petitions for these offices are subject to two deadlines."

The first of those is 5 p.m. July 26 and requires the petitioner to file signature pages with the appropriate county board of elections, which is 15 days before the final

documentation is due to the State Board of Elections.

"If you're going to run a write-in campaign, you can’t just slap up signs and say, 'Vote for me,'" Cooper said. "It's not the wild west."

More: Boyle column: Will Madison Cawthorn get the message now?

As of July 22, the only names on file with the state Board of Elections for the November general election for the 11th Congressional District were Beach-Ferrara, Edwards and Libertarian David Adam Coatney of Fletcher.

Regarding a Cawthorn farewell tour, Cooper rated that "about the same as my odds of winning the Tour de France."

"Love or hate Cawthorn, he didn’t spend lot of time in the district, even when he was trying to stay in the House," Cooper said. "And I don’t see him starting to pay attention to the district now."

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Cawthorn seemed much more interested in generating national attention, attending rallies out of the district and the state. As Cooper puts it, he "ran a national campaign for a local office and didn't pay attention to his district's concerns."

"And that’s not going to change," Cooper said. "I think Madison Cawthorn has his sights set on something that does not involve our district."

This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 232-5847 or jboyle@citizen-times.com

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Answer Man: Could Cawthorn run a write-in campaign? Farewell tour?