By Carey Phillips

Madison Cawthorn rolled to victory Tuesday in the runoff primary to determine the Republican nominee for the 11th Congressional District seat.

Cawthorn, a Henderson County resident who owns a real estate investment company, received 30,444 votes, or 65.8 percent, across the district.

Lynda Bennett, a Haywood County Realtor, totaled 15,806 votes, or 34.2 percent.

Cawthorn advances to face Democrat Moe Davis, Libertarian Tracey DeBruhl and Green Party nominee Tamara Zwinak on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Cawthorn will not turn 25, the minimum age to serve in Congress, until August.

He carried every county in the district except Rutherford, even winning in Bennett’s home county.

Cawthorn polled 56.9 percent of the vote in Jackson County. He had 832 votes here to 631, or 43.1 percent, for Bennett.

Turnout locally among the 17,956 eligible voters was 8.15 percent. All registered Republicans were eligible as were Unaffiliated voters who cast a Republican ballot or did not vote in the March 3 first primary.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jackson County Board of Elections consolidated voters from the 13 precincts into six voting sites. Still, vote totals were reported by precinct and Cawthorn won 12. The only exception was Canada.

The totals will not be official until the vote canvass July 6.

The seat became open when Congressman Mark Meadows decided not to seek a fifth term. He later resigned to become chief of staff for President Donald Trump.

Cawthorn won despite Bennett having the endorsement of Trump and Meadows.

In the March primary, Bennett led in the district with 20,606 votes to 18,481 for Cawthorn. Her 22.7 percent of the vote in a 12-candidate field fell short of the 30 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

State Senator Jim Davis, who finished third districtwide, carried Jackson County in the first primary with 1,207 votes, or 36.3 percent. Bennett had 763 votes, or 23 percent, to place second, with Cawthorn third at 371 votes, or 11.2 percent.

Jackson County Election Director Lisa Lovedahl felt the turnout was good for a second primary.

“The flow of voters was steady with virtually no waiting lines while still looking out for the voters’ health,” she said. “That is because Jackson County has exceptionally wonderful precinct workers.

“For years Jackson County voters have enjoyed almost no waiting lines with ample voting opportunities because of these workers,” Lovedahl said. “You may not know who all these people are at the polls. They are not government workers, they are just your everyday citizens who believe in giving back to their communities by allowing you to cast your ballots.”

Lovedahl said every polling site was supplied with an ample amount of hand sanitizer, gloves and masks for precinct workers and voters.

“Although voters were not required to wear a mask, many voters arrived with their own face masks or accepted a free one at the polls,” she said. 

“Most precincts experienced cooperation between workers and voters in regards to the safety measure in place.”

Lovedahl asked voters to be considerate of poll workers at all elections.

“Every time a precinct worker is mistreated, that is one more chance they may not decide to unselfishly work 14-plus hours with little benefit to themselves,” she said. “As in this election, they may be putting themselves at risk. Many of our workers are in the high risk category or have a family member who is.”