A 24-year-old real estate investment CEO and motivational speaker is the winner of a North Carolina House GOP primary, The Associated Press projects. Madison Cawthorn won the nomination against Lynda Bennett in the 11th Congressional District runoff on Tuesday.
Cawthorn won despite his opponent being endorsed by President Donald Trump, who tweeted his praise of her record earlier this month.
The two newcomers faced off against each other after incumbent Mark Meadows chose not to seek reelection to be. Meadows also endorsed Bennett.
Despite beating a Trump-endorsed candidate, Cawthorn said the election's outcome wasn't a rebuke of the president.
"I want to make something clear: I support our great president," Cawthorn said in a victory statement that was posted to Facebook. "I do not believe this election has been a referendum on the president's influence. The people of western North Carolina are wise and discerning. You observed both candidates and simply made the choice you believed is best for our district."
According to his website, Cawthorn garnered endorsements from three retired lawmakers as well as former 11th district candidates. Perhaps his longest list of endorsements come from county commissioners and sheriffs around the region.
Cawthorn ran on a platform embracing religious freedom and border security and opposing abortion and what he deems socialized medicine. According to Ballotpedia, his key goals are combating socialism, enacting congressional term limits and implementing an amendment that mandates the budget be balanced.
He stressed that adversity is what ultimately inspired him to seek higher office. Cawthorn was partially paralyzed in an automobile accident in 2014 and credits the life-changing event with strengthening his faith and perseverance.
Though Cawthorn is a relatively young candidate, he is not ineligible from being elected. House members are constitutionally required to be at least 25 years of age or older and Cawthorn will hit that milestone in August.
During his campaign announcement in January, Cawthorn stressed that his age was a net positive, stating that he represents "an emerging generation of Americans who are tomorrow's leaders."
He will face Democrat Moe Davis in November.