This week, Donald Trump suffered yet another embarrassing blow to his fragile ego when the candidate he had endorsed for a special runoff Congressional election in North Carolina lost, and lost badly—to 24-year-old David Madison Cawthorn, a motivational speaker and real estate investor who naturally chooses to go by Madison. I mean, just look at him! He’s definitely a Madison!
If Cawthorn wins the general election for North Carolina’s 1th District, which given that it’s a Republican stronghold he is expected to do, he will become the youngest member of Congress, as well as its most Ken Doll-like.
But what does he believe in, other than the value of a 10-step skincare regimen and preventative Botox? In a sign that not all the youths are okay, Cawthorn, who somehow missed the message among his peers that caring about the needs of others is now very cool, campaigned on a platform of guns, freedom, and the need to fight “the rise of socialism,” which he believes is the “number one problem in our country.” “So many people, the generation 40 and younger, are starting to fall and be deceived for all these lies that sound good,” he told the Washington Examiner. “It probably feels good to say, ‘I want to let everyone have the same standard of living,’ but I want to vote for not just what feels good, but what does good.” How very motivational!
As he put it on his website, “Our faith, our freedoms and our values are under assault from leftist, coastal elites like Nancy Pelosi and AOC. I will work tirelessly for smaller, leaner government and I will be a strong voice for faith, family & freedom.” And specifically, the freedom to not have good and affordable healthcare, or what he describes as “the Democrats’ plan to create socialized medicine.”
Cawthorn’s views on healthcare, as he tells it, are informed by personal tragedy—as a teen, he and a friend, Brad Ledford, were driving back home after a spring break spent in Clearwater, Florida when his friend, the driver, fell asleep at the wheel, crashing their car. His resulting injuries led him to use a wheelchair, which he uses to this day. According to an interview with the Washington Examiner, he “had over $3 million in medical debt as an 18-year-old,” an experience that has led him to want to be “the face of the Republican Party when it comes to healthcare.”
But if most people burdened by $3 million in medical debt might then support a system that would not burden them with $3 million in medical debt due to a horrific accident and the resulting costs of recovery, Cawthorn pushes something else. “We’ve got to introduce more competition in that market to lower costs so that if someone has a catastrophic injury like I did, they’re not going to be $3 million in debt. That’s absurd,” he told the Examiner. I guess to Cawthorn, owing a mere one million to health care companies would be okay?
If Cawthorn’s account of racking up $3 million in medical debt is true, though, he might not have paid it out of pocket. Court records in a complicated (to me) legal battle reveal that his friend Brad Ledford’s car insurance company seemed perfectly willing to pay him and his family $3 million shortly after the 2014 accident (and eventually did). But—in a twist!—the initial $3 million offer apparently wasn’t enough for Cawthorn and his family, who ended up suing not only the car insurance company but Cawthorn’s friend who was driving the vehicle. Cawthorn then got his $3 million from the auto insurance company (which again, the company had offered to him before the lawsuit) and settled with his friend Ledford for a cool $30 million, who then transferred that judgment to him so Cawthorn could sue the insurance company for that same amount. Cawthorn then sued the insurance company again, a case that he lost and then lost again on appeal.
According to the biography on his website, Cawthorn has many other hobbies other than ranting about socialism and filing lawsuits—he is an avid churchgoer who also enjoys “cooking, travel, fitness, photography & videography,” as well as hunting. While I have no reason to doubt his love of guns, according to public records, no one under his name has a hunting license in the state of North Carolina, or any other state in the country. At the very least, he’s certainly good at posing with a very large gun for photos!
Update (9:49 a.m.): This post has been updated to better clarify the details of the lawsuit Cawthorn filed.