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U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn

Madison Cawthorn raised over $1 million in the first quarter of 2021, well ahead of the 2022 congressional election.

According to a source from inside Cawthorn’s campaign, total contributions amount to $1,046,202.33. The 25-year-old incumbent, who will seek his second term representing NC-11 in Washington, D.C., received about $4 million in contributions throughout his 2020 campaign, during which he won two Republican primaries and defeated Democratic challenger Moe Davis by 12 points in the General Election.

Chris Cooper, who heads up Western Carolina University’s Political Science Department, said he believes raising that much money this early in the campaign is unprecedented for an NC-11 candidate.

“It means that he is as high profile as a member of congress can get,” Cooper said. “To raise a million without formally announcing he’s running again is extraordinary.”

Cooper discussed Cawthorn’s haul in the context of Buncombe County Democratic candidate Jasmine Beach-Ferrara’s recent announcement that she’d already raised $380,000 early on in her campaign. Basically, Cooper said a polarizing candidate like Cawthorn with that kind of national profile can bring in big money on both sides.

“Republicans want to support him because he’s prominent, and Democrats want to fight him,” he said. “He is a fundraising machine for both Republicans and Democrats.”

Because the data on individual contributions isn’t yet available on the FEC website, it isn’t known how much of the money raised came from within the district, but Cooper believes that that large of a number must include a fair amount of outside donations.

Cooper added that he thinks the money raised — which could be substantial enough to scare off some potential primary challengers — mirrors the big numbers put up by first-term Republican representatives like Lauren Boebert, of Colorado, and Marjorie Taylor Green, of Georgia, who use controversy as a rallying cry for supporters.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Madison Cawthorn are the freshmen that don’t play by the normal rules, and they are raising huge sums of money,” he said.

Finally, Cooper offered one major caveat worth considering.

“Money matters, but it is not true that the person with the most money always wins,” he said. “That money may reflect national prominence, but it doesn’t always translate to votes.”

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