Madison Cawthorn concedes in N.C. primary; John Fetterman easily wins in Pennsylvania

Four people fill out ballots at voting booths with their backs toward the camera.
Voters fill out their primary ballots Tuesday at the Fire Department in Eagle, Idaho.
(Kyle Green / Associated Press)

First-term U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn conceded his North Carolina Republican primary race Tuesday to state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who ousted the pro-Donald Trump firebrand from Congress after his personal and political blunders translated into constituent unhappiness.

Cawthorn called Edwards to concede the 11th Congressional District primary, Cawthorn campaign spokesperson Luke Ball told the Associated Press.

The AP late Tuesday had not called the race, in which Edwards was leading Cawthorn and six other Republican candidates with nearly all votes counted. Cawthorn had vaulted to national prominence after winning the mountain-area seat in 2020 at age 25.


Edwards is a fast-food franchise owner who with a victory would advance to the November election against Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who won Tuesday’s six-candidate Democratic primary.

Voters rallied around one of Trump’s handpicked choices for a critical U.S. Senate seat. . U.S. Rep. Ted Budd won the North Carolina Republican Senate primary. Trump elevated the little-known congressman with a surprise endorsement nearly a year ago.

Budd will face Democratic former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who is aiming to become North Carolina’s first Black senator.

A slew of May 17 primaries determined a key Senate matchup in Pennsylvania, the fate of GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn and other marquee races.

But much of the attention centers on Pennsylvania, where Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman easily secured his party’s nomination for an open Senate seat, despite having been forced off the campaign trail by a stroke. The 52-year-old cast an emergency absentee ballot from the hospital and later tweeted that he’d undergone successful surgery to install a pacemaker and was “on track for a full recovery.”

One of the biggest questions of the night is who will compete against Fetterman in the fall. Trump’s preferred candidate, Mehmet Oz, has divided conservatives and faces what looks like a far tougher race. Some are suspicious of the ideological leanings of the celebrity heart surgeon who gained fame as a frequent guest on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show. Oz has spent much of the campaign in a heated fight with former hedge fund executive David McCormick.

That battle has allowed commentator Kathy Barnette to emerge in the final days of the primary as a conservative alternative to Oz and McCormick. Should she win the primary and general election, Barnette would be the first Black Republican woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

Trump, who has held campaign-style rallies with Oz, insists he is the best candidate to keep the Senate seat in Republican hands in the fall. Given his level of involvement in the race, a loss by Oz would be a notable setback for the former president, who is wielding endorsements to prove his dominance in the GOP ahead of a potential 2024 presidential run.

Oz and McCormick were locked in an exceedingly close contest late Tuesday.

Doug Mastriano won the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania governor, beating eight other candidates and a party establishment that had tried to head off his nomination over fears that he is too extreme to win the general election in the presidential battleground.

Mastriano, a retired U.S. Army colonel and state senator since 2019 who was endorsed by Trump, will face Democrat Josh Shapiro in the November election. Shapiro, who was unopposed for the Democratic Party’s governor’s nomination, tweeted that he had mild COVID-19 symptoms that were forcing him from the campaign trail.

The year’s midterm primary season is entering its busiest stretch, with races also unfolding in Kentucky, Oregon and Idaho.

Former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek won that state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, beating state Treasurer Tobias Read in a victory for the party’s progressive wing.

With current Gov. Kate Brown, a progressive Democrat, term-limited, the state’s highest seat is up for grabs in the fall. Kotek, and the Republican who wins the gubernatorial primary, will be in a three-way race in November with Betsy Johnson, a former longtime Democratic state senator who is running as an independent. As a nonaffiliated candidate, Johnson does not need to run a primary race to make the fall ballot.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little won the GOP gubernatorial primary, beating a Trump-backed challenger who had repeatedly criticized the incumbent for not being conservative enough.

Little and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin frequently feuded over coronavirus precautions and the role of government. Last year McGeachin twice attempted a power grab when Little was out of state on business.

Tuesday’s contests could ultimately determine how competitive the general election will be this fall, when control of Congress, governor’s mansions and key election posts are up for grabs. That’s especially true in the perennial political battleground of Pennsylvania, where some Republicans are already worried that state Sen. Doug Mastriano is too extreme to woo moderates, who are often decisive in general elections there.

“There’s definitely some concern in large factions of the party,” said Pennsylvania Republican strategist Vince Galko.

Former President Trump uses primary endorsements to seek revenge, push election fraud lies and shape the Republican Party. How are his candidates faring?

More fundamentally, Tuesday’s primaries could test voters’ commitment to the principles of democracy. Barnette is running even further to the right than Oz and participated in the January 2021 rally that turned into an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Then there’s Mastriano, who was also outside the Capitol during the mob attack, and will appoint Pennsylvania’s chief election official if he becomes governor. He has pledged to take the extraordinary step of requiring voters to “re-register” to vote — even though that’s barred by the National Voter Registration Act and likely violates significant protections under federal and possibly state law.

Mastriano made Trump’s lies about widespread electoral fraud costing him the presidency a centerpiece of his campaign — and has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot following his efforts to name a slate of alternate electoral college electors in Trump’s favor.

Stacy Steinly, a 51-year-old school bus assistant, cast her ballot in the town of Hamburg, Pa., about 30 miles west of Allentown. She said she chose Mastriano because “he was sticking by President Trump and saying that everything was fraudulent.”

“Everything he was talking about was making sense,” said Steinly, who wore a black T-shirt that said “Biden is not my president (or anyone else’s) based on legal votes.”

Trump’s safest bet might have been Budd, who overcome a slow start to emerge from 14 Republican primary candidates, including former Gov. Pat McCrory, as the winner of North Carolina’s Republican Senate primary.

GOP primaries are no longer about running on ideology or even competence. Those aren’t ways to differentiate among MAGA candidates.

While much of the attention during the opening phase of the primary season has focused on Trump’s grip on the GOP, the contests also serve as a referendum on President Biden’s leadership of the Democratic Party. In the president’s native state of Pennsylvania, Rep. Conor Lamb, a moderate in the mold of Biden, was handily beaten by Fetterman.

Lamb said Tuesday he had detected “frustration” among Democratic primary voters, a feeling he said he shared as the party has struggled to accomplish much of its policy agenda. But he argued that moderates helped Democrats retake control of the House in 2018 and that the party should “double down” on that approach this year.

“What I’ve been trying to do throughout this campaign is talk about the fact that no matter how difficult it is, we actually know as a party what it takes to be successful,” Lamb told a Pittsburgh radio station.

Fetterman, known for his hulking, 6-foot-8 stature and tattoos, and for championing causes such as universal healthcare, has appealed to many Democrats with his outsider image.

Robert Sweeney, 59, also from Hamburg, said he voted for Fetterman because “he seemed like a decent guy and knows what he’s doing.”