RALEIGH — Chuck Edwards, a Republican state senator representing Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties, announced Nov. 30 that he is running for North Carolina’s new 14th Congressional District. The district largely resembles the old 11th Congressional District, which is represented by the young conservative Congressman Madison Cawthorn. Cawthorn has decided not to run in the district covering Edwards and Cawthorn’s mutual hometown of Hendersonville, though, and will instead run further east in the new 13th Congressional District.
“Our congressman has moved on and that has left an empty seat, and I’m anxious to fill it,” Edwards told NSJ on Dec. 3. “With our congressman moving on, I recognized that this district, District 14, requires stability. We’ve not seen it in several years. I am a person with a proven track record of standing for the values that we hold in western North Carolina. I understand mountain people because I am a mountain person. And I know what’s important to mountain people.”
Asked if he spoke with Cawthorn before the latter’s decision not to run in their home district, Edwards said, “The only information I have is what I have seen in the news media.”
It was rumored for months that Edwards was encouraged by powerful state Republican leaders to primary Cawthorn, and he had not been shy about criticizing the first-term representative. Edwards was particularly critical of Cawthorn speaking at the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and of Cawthorn saying a crowd should “lightly threaten” their legislators. Cawthorn has maintained that the “threat” was political — like to vote them out of office — not physical, but Edwards saw it as dangerous rhetoric.
“There’s a right and wrong way to conduct yourself as a legislator, and I’m extremely concerned about Congressman Cawthorn’s conduct,” Edwards tweeted on Jan. 12. “As a legislator, I don’t need to be threatened to do the job the voters hired me to do.”
But now with Cawthorn out of the way, Edwards likely has an easier path.
“Every election is a contest, and I have no doubt this one will be heavily contested as well,” he said. “I certainly have the background and the team for a definite win, without taking anything for granted.”
Edwards went on to say that after the announcement, “The reaction has been incredibly positive. I’ve received so much support from folks who have supported my [state] Senate candidacy and some of those that didn’t.”
After five years in the state General Assembly, Edwards said that experience will greatly help if he transitions to Washington, D.C.
“I’m confident that every moment that I’ve spent in the last five years that I’ve spent in the North Carolina General Assembly prepares me to take on the bureaucrats of Washington, D.C., and make a difference for the folks in western North Carolina.”
He said his main priority would be standing up to the “Biden agenda,” which he said would mean fighting for the Second Amendment, border security and election security.
“The people in the mountains are extremely troubled with how Washington is behaving today,” he said. “Under the Biden administration, we have open borders, we have debt that’s out of control, gas prices are climbing, grocery bills are becoming unaffordable, and the security of our country is at risk.”
Before going into politics, Edwards was a successful businessman, spending much of his career working for the McDonald’s fast-food chain. He started working there at 16 and then worked his way into their corporate structure. He eventually was able to buy multiple franchises of his own.
In terms of his family upbringing, Edwards said, “I was born and raised here in the very mountains that I’m now asking to represent. As a child, I was a member of a very religious but poor family. My mom was a waitress; my dad was a truck driver. We didn’t have much, but we had love and togetherness.”
Cawthorn released a video on social media Nov. 11 explaining why he was going to switch from his home district to one further east, saying, “I have every confidence in the world that regardless of where I run, the 14th Congressional District will send a patriotic fighter to D.C. But, knowing the political realities of the 13th District, I’m afraid that another establishment, go-along-to-get-along Republican would prevail there. I will not let that happen.”
He continued: “In my heart, I represent North Carolina as a whole, not some arbitrary line that some politician drew this cycle.”