Cawthorn defeats Bennett in second GOP primary

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Madison Cawthorn won the second GOP primary for U.S House of Representatives NC District 11 on Tuesday.

Macon County Republican Party voters turned out in high numbers for the second primary for U.S. House of Representatives district NC 11 on Tuesday.

When the final vote count rolled in, Madison Cawthorn defeated Linda Bennett by a total of 30,444 to 15,806. In Macon County, Cawthorn’s victory was also decisive as he tallied 1,846 votes to Bennett’s 1,139.

“Ours is not just a ‘grass roots’ campaign,” Cawthorn said in a written statement. “Together, we are creating the deep roots of a solid oak tree which Abraham Lincoln compared to pillars of freedom. We can build new pillars all across this nation and prove Lincoln right when he said, ‘that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’”

Cawthorn and Bennett were forced to have a second primary following a close finish in March’s initial primary election. Bennett received 22.7 percent of the vote in March to Cawthorn’s 20.3 percent in the first primary, which featured 13 candidates.

With the field narrowed to two choices on Tuesday, Cawthorn overtook Bennett for the Republican nomination. He will face Democratic Party nominee Moe Davis as well as candidates from the Constitutional Party, Green Party and Libertarian Party in November’s general election.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Macon County Board of Elections consolidated the county’s 15 precincts into three polling places for Tuesday’s second primary. Voting was done at the Robert C. Carpenter Community Building in Franklin, the Highlands Rec Center and Nantahala Community Building.

Despite the unique setup, board of elections associate director Gary Tallent was pleased with how smooth the process ran, even with higher than expected voter turnout.

“It was different only having three polling locations, but it worked as well as we could have hoped,” Tallent said. “We saw a high turnout, both in early voting and on Election Day, and didn’t have any serious issues. The voters seemed to be very understanding of why we were operating the way we were and we got several compliments for how organized we were able to keep everything.”