Spoof Awards 2021: The Carpetbagger Award
As if Henderson County native David Madison Cawthorn’s meteoric rise to fame wasn’t surprising enough, Cawthorn’s Nov. 11 announcement that he’d run for reelection not in the district that elected him but instead in a newly-drawn district that he doesn’t live in, has set a new bar for political opportunism in Western North Carolina.
That’s a bold statement, especially considering the district’s previous representation.
Another carpetbagger — wealthy Florida/Cashiers real estate developer Mark Meadows — somehow managed to convince working class rural conservatives that he understood their struggles and would advocate for their welfare, until he unceremoniously resigned from Congress just in time to leave those working class rural conservatives without a voice in government while then-President Donald Trump passed some of the largest government spending packages in history.
Meadows went on to help perpetuate Trump’s “big lie” and discussed ways in which to overthrow the United States government through, of all things, a hilariously primitive PowerPoint presentation.
Cawthorn’s had little legislative success as a freshman member of Congress in a minority party, but much like Meadows, Cawthorn has seen massive success in hitching his wagon to a wealthy New York property developer who somehow managed to convince working class rural conservatives that he understood their struggles and would advocate for their welfare.
In following Meadows’ example as the face of the Trump Right, Cawthorn shocked pundits and politicos with his decision to abandon the people of Western North Carolina, leaving some voters feeling used and disenchanted for the second time in less than two years.
What’s more surprising is that during his 2020 campaign, Cawthorn repeatedly referred to his Democratic opponent, a Shelby native who’d spent decades serving across the globe in the United States Air Force, as a “carpetbagger” for retiring to Asheville and running for Congress.
In a delicious dose of irony that would make the Bard himself blush with envy, Cawthorn’s new district includes — yup, you guessed it — Shelby, making Cawthorn the carpetbagger as he now campaigns there in hopes of returning to Congress in 2023.