Cawthorn announces run in new 13th Congressional district, NC House Speaker announces re-election bid

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., speaks during a news conference with Republican members of the House, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

RALEIGH – First-term U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn upended an expected campaign by N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) for Congress with his announcement he would run in the new 13th District in the 2022 election.

In a video announcement on Thursday night, Cawthorn said that his district was split and he faced a decision about where he felt he could best serve.

The decision, he said, was a “move to take more ground for constitutional conservatism” and to stop what he said was the political reality an “establishment, go along to get along Republican” would win if he did not run.

That appears to be a shot from Cawthorn at Moore, the longtime Cleveland County state Rep. who has served in the General Assembly for 10 terms including as speaker since 2015.

Moore had long planned to run for Congress.

As budget negotiations and redistricting stretched from summer to fall, speculation increased that Moore was building his profile to make a run for Congress. He became more active on social media and made frequent appearances on The Pete Kaliner Show on WBT Radio, the Charlotte-area station that broadcasts widely in the greater Charlotte area – including most of the new 13th District.

Yet by Thursday night, Moore had told colleagues he was running for re-election in his state house seat and for his speaker position.

In a Raleigh News & Observer report, state Rep. Jason Saine, confirmed that Moore was running for re-election, saying Moore asked for support as speaker again, and “he continues to have my support,” said Saine to the news outlet.

Cawthorn won’t be unopposed in the 13th District although he is the favorite to win the primary. Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Karen Bentley announced a run earlier this week for the seat.

The swift shift now leaves the new 14th District, which runs from Watauga County down to Cherokee County, as an open seat for both parties.

Several Asheville-area Democrats had already announced campaigns and appear likely to stay in the race.

A trio of state senators could eye the seat on the Republican side: Deanna Ballard, Chuck Edwards, and Ralph Hise have all been mentioned as potential candidates. Ballard and Hise were double-bunked in the new state senate maps. N.C. Republican Party 11th District chair Michele Woodhouse has also been rumored as a potential candidate.

“This was a tactical move to ensure North Carolina’s conservative fighting spirit is strengthened,” Cawthorn added.

In a 24-hour span, he once again demonstrated his ability to take the political world by storm.