Eight candidates are running in the Republican primary election for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District on May 17, 2022. If no candidate receives more than 30 percent of the vote in the primary election, a runoff between the top two finishers will take place on July 26, 2022. The general election will take place on Nov. 8, 2022. Incumbent Rep. Madison Cawthorn and Chuck Edwards have received the most media attention and endorsements.
Cawthorn was first elected to Congress in 2020. Cawthorn’s campaign website identified him as an America First candidate, a term often associated with the platform of former President Donald Trump (R) and candidates who say they support his agenda. Cawthorn has said that groups from across the political spectrum want to defeat him, saying, “the radical left, the establishment, and the media want to take me down . . . I won’t stop fighting. I won’t bow to the mob. They want to silence the America First movement. I’m not going anywhere.”
Edwards was first elected to the North Carolina State Senate in 2016. He told Jewish Insider that although he supported Cawthorn and wanted him to succeed, he “feel[s] that Western North Carolina can do better.” He has accused Cawthorn of increasing political tensions and criticized him for comments Cawthorn made suggesting supporters threaten House members to overturn the 2020 election results. Edwards has contrasted his legislative experience to Cawthorn’s, highlighting sponsorship of a bill that banned sanctuary cities in North Carolina and working on the state’s balanced budget.
Trump endorsed Cawthorn for re-election on March 31, 2021. Following Cawthorn’s claims in late March 2022 that lawmakers in Washington use cocaine and hold orgies, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) endorsed Edwards. Tillis said Cawthorn “has fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives.” Cawthorn, who later said the claims he made were exaggerated, also drew criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the remarks.
The Republican nominee is expected to also win the general election. As of April 2022, three independent race forecasters rated the race as Safe Republican or Solid Republican and Cook Political Report estimated that the district’s PVI was R+8. The 11th Congressional District contains all or parts of 15 counties in western North Carolina, including the city of Asheville.
Also running in the primary are Matthew Burril, Rod Honeycutt, Wendy Nevarez, Bruce O’Connell, Kristie Sluder, and Michele Woodhouse.