House primaries to watch Tuesday: Madison Cawthorn faces several challengers and more
Primary voters are going to the polls in five states, with closely-watched contests for House seats happening in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Oregon.
Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn is facing several primary challengers, one of whom is endorsed by Senator Thom Tillis, who said Cawthorn had "fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives." Also in North Carolina, in the open seat for retiring Democratic Rep. David Price, a crowded field includes former "American Idol" contestant Clay Aiken, state Sen. Valerie Foushee and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, who would become the first Muslim woman to serve in public office in North Carolina if she wins.
In Oregon's 6th District, Sen. Jeff Merkley called the involvement of House Majority PAC, a group aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "flat-out wrong." That race is turning into one of the most expensive primary races in the country.
Democratic voters in Pennsylvania's 17th District — currently represented by Democrat Conor Lamb, who is running for Senate —will have to choose between two candidates in the once perennial swing district that now leans Republican.
Here are more House races to watch Tuesday:
Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina's 11th District is facing multiple serious primary challengers who aim aim to replace him after his tumultuous first term in Congress.
Cawthorn, in his first term in what was Mark Meadows' congressional seat, has lately been ensnared in multiple controversies, from calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a "thug," to getting caught driving with a revoked license, to bringing a loaded gun into a Charlotte airport to ethics complaints of alleged misconduct toward his staff.
Sen. Thom Tillis has publicly backed state Sen. Chuck Edwards in the primary, and an affiliated super PAC has spent more than $1.5 million to oppose Cawthorn. Tillis has been vocal about his disapproval with Cawthorn since he said in March that he had watched members of Congress do drugs and he had been invited to an "orgy," comments that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said there was "no evidence" to support.
"Unfortunately, Madison Cawthorn has fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives, and voters now have several well-qualified candidates to choose from who would be a significant improvement," Tillis said in his endorsement of Edwards.
Cawthorn had actually backed one of his opponents, Michele Woodhouse, in a previous version of North Carolina's congressional map when she had been brought to meet with Trump and other Republican operatives at Mar-a-Lago. But after that map was thrown out by the courts, Cawthorn decided to return to his current district. Woodhouse, a former GOP chair for the district, said she was asked to leave the race, but she said she refused to drop out.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Cawthorn in March and re-upped his support Sunday on the "TRUTH Social" media platform.
"When Madison was first elected to Congress, he did a great job. Recently, he made some foolish mistakes, which I don't believe he'll make again… let's give Madison a second chance!" he wrote on TRUTH social.
Cawthorn had actually backed one of his opponents, Michele Woodhouse, when it didn't appear they would be running against each other in a previous version of North Carolina's congressional map and she had been brought to meet with Trump and other Republican operatives at Mar-a-Lago. But after that map was thrown out by the courts, Cawthorn decided to return to his current district. Woodhouse, a former GOP chair for the 11th District, said she was asked to leave the race, but she said she refused to drop out.
She said she sees herself as a Trump-like alternative to Cawthorn, and painted Edwards as an establishment, moderate candidate.
"Cawthorn is 100% unelectable. If he comes out of the primary, we will lose the seat to a liberal in November," she told CBS News. "Conservatives are just not going to vote. They'll either skip the race completely or skip voting completely. We are sitting in a precarious spot."
Former Congressman Heath Shuler, who served from 2007 to 2013, was the last Democrat to represent the district.
If no candidate receives at least 30% of the vote, then there will be a runoff election between the top two vote getters. If more than one candidate gets above 30%, then the top vote getter wins the primary outright. There are seven total Republican candidates challenging Cawthorn.
One independent poll for the race by the Republican GOPAC group showed Cawthorn with 38% of the vote, followed by Edwards with 21%, Woodhouse with 5% and 20% undecided.
In North Carolina's 13th District, outside of Raleigh, Trump has endorsed Bo Hines, a 26-year-old and former college football recruit. The Club for Growth, an anti-tax PAC that has been active in GOP primaries, has also backed Hines over the other Republican primary candidates.
Another House primary to watch in North Carolina is the Democratic primary in North Carolina's 4th District. Clay Aiken, the former singer on "American Idol," is running in a crowded field to replace retiring Democratic Congressman David Price. State Sen. Valerie Foushee is being backed by the pro-Israel group AIPAC and a cryptocurrency billionaire, according to The News & Observer. Another candidate, Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, would become the first Muslim woman to serve in public office in North Carolina if she wins. She is being backed by prominent progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The Democratic primary to replace retiring Congressman Mike Doyle in Pennsylvania's 12th district is is another test for the progressive movement. State Rep. Summer Lee has been backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the progressive progressive Justice Democrats. She faces four other candidates: attorney Steve Irwin, professor Jerry Dickinson, businessman Will Parker and nonprofit administrator Jeff Woodward.
Doyle has backed Irwin and criticized Lee and her support in a call to reporters Thursday morning. "You don't get anything done being Bernie Sanders or the Squad. If you point to anything they've done resulting in law, I would love to know what it is. That just hasn't happened," he said on the call. Irwin and Lee lead the field in fundraising.
In Pennsylvania's 17th Democratic primary, two candidates are looking to replace Democratic Congressman Conor Lamb in his perennial Pittsburgh-area swing seat: veteran Chris Deluzio and Democratic National Committee member Sean Meloy. The winner will have to navigate an environment that favors Republicans and win a seat that voted for President President Biden by only 6 points in 2020.
Three Republicans are running in the primary in the district: former local councilwoman Kathleen Coder, national security expert Jason Killmeyer and former township commissioner Jeremy Shaffer.
There are also Republican primaries in two other competitive House seats this year, held by Democratic Reps. Susan Wild in the 7th District and Matt Cartwright in the 8th District. Their likely GOP challengers, Lisa Scheller in the 7th District and Jim Bognet in the 8th District, both have endorsements from Trump and McCarthy. But both also have one other Republican challenger in the primary that they have to beat first.
Both of these districts are rated as "toss ups" by the Cook Political Report.
In Oregon's 5th District, Democratic progressive Jamie McLeod Skinner has been backed by Warren in her challenge against incumbent Democrat Kurt Schrader, who is backed by President Biden. Redistricting resulted in new voters being added to the district, a potential benefit for a newcomer like McLeod Skinner.
In Oregon's 6th District, state Representative Andrea Salinas and tech researcher Carrick Flynn are locked in one of the most expensive and contentious Democratic primaries in the country. Salinas has the backing of BOLD PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' campaign arm, while Flynn is endorsed by the House Majority PAC, a group aligned with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
Flynn also has the financial backing of cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried and his super PAC, "Protect Our Future." They have spent over $10 million in the race, according to a campaign finance report.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat that has not endorsed in the primary, called House Majority PAC's involvement "flat-out wrong."
In addition to Flynn and Salinas there are five other Democratic candidates running in the primary, including Loretta Smith, a former aide to Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Smith was backed by the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday.
This is the first primary in the district's history, it was added after Oregon showed a substantial population growth in the 2020 Census.
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