Madison Cawthorn Seeking Second Term in New District to Keep 'Go-Along' Republican Out

North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn has announced plans to rerun for Congress, with one key difference.

Cawthorn announced on Twitter that he will run in the new congressional 13th district in the state ahead of the March 2022 primary. The move comes after North Carolina approved a controversial new map that critics said is an example of gerrymandering. The district that the congressman will run in is "friendlier to Republicans," according to the Associated Press.

"Knowing the political realities of the 13th district, I'm afraid that another establishment, go-along-to-get-along Republican would prevail there," said Cawthorn in the video posted on social media. "I will not let that happen. I will be running for Congress in the 13th congressional district."

However, this new bid hinges on whether or not North Carolina's new map will be approved in court. If it succeeds, experts said that the 13th district will be an easy win for Republicans like Cawthorn.

North Carolina is one of many states across the country that allow congressional candidates to choose which district they run their campaigns in. However, they must live in that district by the date of the general election. Cawthorn currently does not live in the proposed new district, with his current district potentially leaning blue in next year's election.

"This move is not an abandonment," Cawthorn elaborated. "In fact, quite the opposite. It is a move to take more ground for constitutional conservatism. In my heart, I represent North Carolina as a whole, not some arbitrary line that some politician drew this cycle."

North Carolina is currently being sued by voting rights groups, accusing the newly proposed map of racial gerrymandering.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Cawthorn at CPAC
U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn said that his move to a new district was not "abandonment." Cawthorn, a North Carolina Republican, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Hilton Anatole on July 9 in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

His move to compete for a seat friendlier to Republicans could bolster his national profile and serve as a springboard to higher political office in a state slowly becoming more hospitable to Democrats.

The 26-year-old ally of former President Donald Trump announced his switch on Twitter Thursday night, casting it as an effort to thwart the bid pundits have expected from state House Speaker Tim Moore.

Shortly after Cawthorn's announcement, Moore said he would not run for the congressional seat that had been drawn near his home and instead plans to seek another term as state House leader.

"I look forward to serving with my colleagues as Speaker of the House of Representatives and securing a supermajority for the Republicans next year," Moore said in a statement, adding that "much of the speculation about my potential congressional candidacy has been driven by the media and political pundits."

Moore told the Associated Press in a text message that Cawthorn's announcement had "zero" role in his decision and that he had already determined to seek reelection to his current seat.

But one of his colleagues, Representative Donny Lambeth, a Republican, said Moore told him earlier that day that he had not yet made a final decision, though he was strongly leaning against a congressional run.

In a state where Trump narrowly defeated President Joe Biden with less than 50 percent of the votes, the GOP would likely hold 10 or 11 of the 14 districts up for grabs next year if the maps pass legal muster.

If Cawthorn wins the 13th, he would still represent about a third of the voters in his current district, since the new map moves all of McDowell and Polk and half of Rutherford County out of the 11th, said Chris Cooper, a Western Carolina University political science professor. Moving down from the mountains into the Charlotte media market also could elevate his political ambitions, he aid.

"There is no way to separate the goal from the attention," Cooper said. "The goal is the attention in so many ways for Madison Cawthorn. We've seen that from Day 1, and this is just another example."

Cawthorn, who uses a wheelchair after he was partially paralyzed in 2014, has amassed several hundred thousand followers on social media by appealing to Trump's most loyal base of supporters, making him one of the state's most nationally visible lawmakers.

Since his political breakthrough in 2020, Cawthorn has faced criticism from Democrats and moderate Republicans for speaking at Trump's rally shortly before the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Since then, he's encouraged North Carolinians to take up arms in advance of potential "bloodshed" over future elections he claims could "continue to be stolen," falsely suggesting Biden's 2020 win was illegitimate.

He's bolstered his reputation by traversing the state to criticize how racial issues are taught in K-12 public schools, often making false or exaggerated claims of mass indoctrination.

During a Henderson County School Board meeting in September, Cawthorn allegedly brought a knife onto educational property. The county sheriff's office called the incident "unacceptable," but declined to prosecute the congressman and instead issued a warning.

"North Carolinians don't settle for the status quo. We defy it," Cawthorn said in his video.

NC Redistricting
Representative Madison Cawthorn, a North Carolina Republican, announced he will seek reelection in a new district. Melissa Price Kromm, right, with North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections speaks at a news conference criticizing the General Assembly’s redistricting process on November 3 at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, North Carolina. AP Photo/Gary D. Robertson