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Posts published in “Politics”

Cawthorn Pointedly Defies Laws Banning Weapons on School Property

In latest incident, a short dagger in his pants

Rep. Madison Cawthorn speaking Oct. 5 at Western Carolina University (photo: David Wheeler)

[Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include yet another complaint, at end of story.]

For the second time in as many months, Rep. Madison Cawthorn faces a potential criminal complaint for carrying a weapon — in the latest incident, a “combat” automatic knife similar to a switchblade — in a public school building.  

The 26-year-old freshman Congressman was photographed Tuesday night at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee with the knife handle protruding from his pants pocket. 

Enlarged view of knife clip

It appeared to be a different knife than the one he was seen carrying three weeks ago during an appearance before the Henderson County Board of Education. That also prompted a citizen complaint to be filed with Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin. 

Griffin, a Republican,

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Batchelor Withdraws from GOP Primary Race to Replace Cawthorn in NC11

The field of challengers to Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn’s renomination narrowed Sunday with the withdrawal of Army veteran and Haywood County deputy sheriff Eric Batchelor.

Batchelor sent an email to supporters early Sunday announcing the suspension of his intra-party challenge to the first-term incumbent. But he added that his decision was intended to improve the chances of the remaining three announced challengers to stop Cawthorn from winning renomination as the Western North Carolina representative.

“With myself and three others challenging Cawthorn in the primary, the vote is split so that he will probably still emerge as the victor,” Batchelor wrote in an early-morning email. “I have met with two of the three remaining candidates and they understand the consequences of our high numbers as well.”

Under North Carolina election law, a candidate needs only 30 percent of the vote in a primary election to secure a party nomination. In a multi-candidate field,

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“It’s going to lead to one place … bloodshed.” What Madison Cawthorn said to supporters

“We need to be storing up some ammunition,” Congressman says

Rep. Madison Cawthorn speaks to Macon County GOP supporters on Aug. 29 (YouTube)

Congressman Madison Cawthorn, Republican representing western North Carolina, spoke this week to Macon County Republicans in Franklin. The organizer estimated the crowd at more than 200 people. The Macon County Republican Party posted a 1-hour, 28-minute video on its Facebook page, but removed it after Cawthorn’s remarks attracted nationwide scrutiny. A copy of the video can be found on YouTube here.

During remarks that were frequently interrupted with applause and cheers from the overwhelmingly white, unmasked crowd, Cawthorn, holding a shotgun he was asked to sign, says the Second Amendment is not for hunting or target shooting but rather for fighting tyranny. He advises the crowd to begin stockpiling ammunition for what he says is likely American-versus-American “bloodshed” over unfavorable election results.

He repeats his claims that the American election system is “rigged” and that the 2020 election was “stolen” from Donald Trump,

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The Man Who Would Be Sheriff: Buncombe Candidate Vows to Make Everything Right

“The biggest terrorist organization right now is the United States government"

David Hurley, candidate for Buncombe County Sheriff, speaks to supporters in Asheville

[This article has been modified since it was originally published. A correction notice has been added.]

Under a Carolina-blue sky, shaded by the oaks framing Pack Square, the small crowd formed a loose, attentive circle around a man speaking and gesticulating with the fervor of a revivalist. This was David Hurley, 37, a candidate to become the Buncombe county sheriff in 2022. 

But, he told the crowd, he wouldn’t be your typical sheriff. 

Hurley described a “constitutional sheriff,” a kind of super authority who would reign supreme over all law enforcement, more powerful than mayors, county commissioners, the governor and — when it came to local matters — even the president.

“The sheriff is the ultimate power in America,” Hurley declared, pacing inside the circle. “It’s been the best-kept secret that they didn’t want to get out.

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As Hospitals Elsewhere Mandate Vaccines for Staff, Mission and Others Resist

Despite "critical" need, administrators fear workers will quit

A choice to be made between an individual and their doctor

The largest healthcare providers in Western North Carolina, including Mission Hospital in Asheville, confirmed this week that they are not requiring doctors, nurses, volunteers, or other hospital staff to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus despite a resurgence of infections and hospitalizations.

Most of the other major hospital systems in the state have made full vaccinations mandatory, citing staff and patient safety as a highly contagious COVID-19 variant spreads nationwide, almost entirely among people who have not been vaccinated or are only partly vaccinated.

Hospital administrators and clinical leaders say they agree that vaccinations represent the most effective way to stop the pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans, including hundreds of people in Asheville and surrounding communities.

Few people are more familiar with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic than hospital workers. Even so, hospital administrators in Western North Carolina — where science and politics are not always compatible — said nurses,

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Cawthorn’s First 2 Months in Office

Under Attack, He Moves (Farther) Right

Congressman Madison says "left-wing elites" stole the election.

Since Madison Cawthorn took office two months ago, vowing to represent everyone in his Western North Carolina district, not just those who voted for him, nearly all of his votes in Congress on substantial issues have been against proposals supported by Democrats, an analysis of his record by Asheville Watchdog found. 

Records show that Rep. Cawthorn has not introduced any original legislation so far in the 117th Congress. He has, however, co-sponsored 52 bills and resolutions as of Thursday, nearly all in support of causes that are popular with what he calls his “patriot” base.

One of the bills Cawthorn co-sponsored, H.R. 450, would prohibit the use of federal funds “to propose, establish, implement, or enforce any requirement that an individual wear a mask or other face covering, or be vaccinated, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

He is also one of a handful of co-sponsors for H.R.

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Cawthorn joins firebrand GOP colleagues on far-right media

"Censored" by U.S. platforms, QAnon and Trump coup backers flock to Congressman's new forum

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Madison Cawthorn work out in the House gym

Shortly after taking his seat in Congress last month, Madison Cawthorn emailed his Republican colleagues to tell them of his intended role. “I have built my staff around comms rather than legislation,” he wrote, using the slang word for public relations.

An Esquire magazine headline offered this translation of the freshman congressman’s words: “It’s not about legislating, or fixing problems. It’s about the show.” If so, the show is not designed to appeal to Western North Carolina’s mainstream Republicans, independents or Democrats, despite Cawthorn’s post-election promise to be the congressman for all his constituents. 

[Editor’s note: This story has been modified since initial publication to remove references to handwritten notes that we erroneously said were made by Rep. Cawthorn. The notes were not written by the congressman, and were posted online as parody. The Watchdog regrets the errors.]

A new and featured attraction of Cawthorn’s “comms” is his own channel on a Dubai-based social-media platform,

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Reparations, Six Months Later: So Far, Empty Promises

Asheville’s Dwindling Black Population Remains Skeptical

Valley Street, ca. 1949. Photo by Juanita Wilson

Six months ago, as part of a reckoning on racial injustice, the City of Asheville and Buncombe County both passed resolutions to consider reparations to the Black community as a way to begin making amends for slavery and generations of systemic discrimination. The votes were hailed as “historic” by The Asheville Citizen Times, and ABC News asked, “Is Asheville a national model?”

Since then, local officials concede, little has been done. Some in the Black community see zero progress.

“From my understanding, they’ve done nothing,” said Rob Thomas, community liaison for the Racial Justice Coalition. 

Despite the fanfare they received at the time, the reparations resolutions are in limbo, still as lacking in specific remedies as they are in financial commitment or engagement with the Black community. The Asheville resolution called for the creation of a Community Reparations Commission to begin drafting recommendations.

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Cawthorn Falsely Says Democrats Paid Capitol Rioters

Calls Intensify for Congressman to Resign

Madison Cawthorn speaks to protesters Jan. 6

In the middle of the siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6, while a mob of insurrectionists still roamed the halls and ransacked offices, leaving five dead and dozens injured, Madison Cawthorn called a friendly conservative radio host and blamed the violence on left-wing agitators sent by “the Democratic machine” to make President Trump look bad. 

“I believe that this was agitators strategically placed inside of this group — you can call them antifa, you can call them people paid by the Democratic machine — but to make the Trump campaign, the Trump movement, look bad. And to make this look like it was a violent outrage, when really the battle was being fought by people like myself and other great patriots who are standing up against the establishment and standing up against this tyranny that we see in our country.”

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Billy Graham’s Legacy Threatened by Family Split

Evangelist’s grandchildren say his son’s pro-Trump politics brings ‘shame’

Franklin Graham offered a prayer at President Trump's inauguration in 2017.

For the Rev. Franklin Graham, the scathing editorial in Christianity Today last year calling his friend Donald Trump “a leader of grossly immoral character” and urging that Trump be “removed from office” was heretical.

To Graham, it was bad enough to read such an attack on Trump. But the insult was compounded by the fact that Christianity Today had been founded by his recently deceased father, Billy Graham, the revered evangelist often called America’s Pastor. So Franklin fired back at the magazine with a powerful riposte to his millions of social-media followers:

I hadn’t shared who my father @BillyGraham voted for in 2016 but because of @CTMagazine’s article, I felt it necessary share now. My father knew [Trump], believed in him & voted for him. He believed Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in the history for our nation.

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