The Saturday, Sept. 5 NC-11 Congressional debate between Democrat Moe Davis and Republican Madison Cawthorn featured words like “liberal lawyer,” “no experience” and “liar.”

Moderators of the event held at Western Carolina University included WCU political science and public affairs department chair, Chris Cooper, WCU professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of Free Enterprise, Edward Lopez, and Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Richard Sneed.

Domestic Violence/Cawthorn Allegations

Chief Sneed asked the candidates if they will support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Woman Act when they go to Washington.

Cawthorn’s answer to domestic violence is more police intervention. To do this, he mentioned several solutions, “whether it’s having more body cameras or having higher pay so that they can have more training so they can handle issues better.”

Davis, who is from Buncombe County, announced his support of the Violence Against Women Act and his endorsement by the National Organization for Women. He then mentioned Cawthorn’s recent allegations of sexual misconduct.

Cawthorn, who is from Henderson County, retorted and claimed what happened was not sexual assault.

“Of course, as a young man, I tried to kiss a few women and it didn’t go the right way. Sometimes my advances failed, but a failed advance is a very long shot away from sexual assault.” He went on the offense after that rebuttal.


Cawthorn, referencing Davis resigning over the use of enhanced interrogation such as waterboarding, challenged the record of Davis as chief prosecutor at Guantanomo Bay.

“If you would like to tout your record, I say that is precisely the reason we should not vote for you,” Cawthorn said. “We do not need another liberal lawyer who stands up for the rights of terrorists instead of the rights of Americans.”

“I stand on my record and what I did at Guantanamo; it’s out there for you to read and review and I encourage you to do it,” Davis said. “I was awarded the Legion of Merit after that, so I stand on what I did.”


Lopez asked the candidates if they would consider legislation that would increase spending or offer tax breaks in a way that would add to the federal debt.

Davis criticized President Trump’s tax cuts, saying they were only great for the rich.

“Where poverty is high and people work for a living, they don’t earn their money off the New York Stock Exchange like my multimillionaire opponent does, so I believe in being fiscally responsible,” he said.

He then said he doesn’t believe in a balanced budget amendment and our fiscal policy should be from the bottom up and in times like these, it’s OK for the government to incur debt.

Cawthorn, who supports a balanced budget amendment, disagreed.

“I believe that my opponent must have gone to school at Hogwarts rather than in Hendersonville because if he believes he can pay down the national debt with his current plan for student loan debt, then he’s living in a magical fantasyland,” he said.

Davis’ plan includes “all student loans to be transferred to the Department of Education and the loan rate will be capped at zero percent interest.”

Davis refuted the claims citing Cawthorn’s educational background.

“My opponent hasn’t had a job or a college education so he knows nothing about college debt,” Davis said. “When he did go to school for a brief period of time at Patrick Henry College, which is a very expensive private college, he went and paid cash. He also knows nothing about paying a mortgage.”


Davis said he understands the under-representation within the government and believes in equality.

Cawthorn, who is confined to a wheelchair, said that as a minority, the car accident six years ago that left him paralyzed taught him much in life, such as grit and character.

“It also taught me empathy,” he said. “Before my accident, I stood at 6-foot 3-inches and I had a presence when I walked through a crowd. People noticed me, but then after I got hurt, I felt invisible.”


Davis said he has not committed to endorsing or supporting the Green New Deal.

Cawthorn said he refuses to take his fiancé to downtown Asheville due to seeing used needles and feces in the streets and blamed Democrat policies for this.

Closing statements

In closing statements, the candidates wanted to make sure their constituents know where they stand.

“I want to go and I want to fight for our national parks in our National Forest for our veterans who I’m proud to stand with for broadband for education and for good jobs,” Davis said. I’m proud to be a North Carolinian. I’m proud to be a veteran. I stand on my record I’m proud of my integrity and I’ll fight for it and I’ll fight for you.”

“I believe in the American dream. I believe I represent the American dream,” Cawthorn said. “Someone who has faced great adversity and  has overcome it with a smile and with hope for the future. That’s what we need right now. America is currently on its knees. Let’s let Western North Carolina lead it back to its feet.”

Patrick Clemons is a communication and political science student at Western Carolina University and a Sylva Herald intern.