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The 2022 midterm elections are the first of the Biden era. They're also the first since the 2020 census, which means there are new congressional districts. There are U.S. Senate races in the Carolinas as well, along with many state and local races.

A federal judge won't let a 2nd group of NC voters challenge Madison Cawthorn's candidacy

madison cawthorn gage skidmore december 2020.jpg
Gage Skidmore
Madison Cawthorn, shortly after winning election to the U.S. House for North Carolina's 11th District, speaks with attendees at the 2020 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

A second group of voters opposing the candidacy of North Carolina U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn — through a section of the Constitution addressing insurrection — has been barred by a federal judge from participating in litigation filed by Cawthorn.

U.S. District Judge Richard Myers denied the request of five voters from 11th Congressional District to enter Cawthorn's lawsuit against the State Board of Elections, saying in his ruling Wednesday that they waited too long to ask to intervene.

Voters from a now-defunct 13th District that Cawthorn had previously filed to run in before redistricting maps were redrawn had filed candidate challenges with the state board and later filed a similar motion to enter Cawthorn's lawsuit against him. Myers said at the time that state government attorneys were adequately representing their interests and denied their request.

These voters have asked the elections board to investigate whether the first-term Republican congressman should be disqualified from seeking reelection because of his involvement with the rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot in January 2021.

They cite a section of the 14th Amendment that says no one can serve in Congress “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress . . . to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.” The section states Congress can pass laws removing such restrictions.

Cawthorn said he never participated in an insurrection and the section didn't apply to him. His lawsuit in part sought to block candidacy investigations by the state board, saying the process violated his due process rights. Myers announced a preliminary injunction favoring Cawthorn on March 4, declaring that the board couldn't hear the voters' challenges on the 14th Amendment claim because an 1872 law removed the disqualifcations.

Two weeks ago, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals then told Myers to consider a new motion by voters to intervene since “circumstances may have changed.” Myers wrote Wednesday that permitting intervention after a final order is issued is rare, and that the voters failed to file in a timely manner their motion once they realized their interests and those of the state elections board had diverged.

Meanwhile, Sen. Thom Tillis says he is backing Cawthorn’s primary challenger, state Senator Chuck Edwards.

“The 11th Congressional District deserves a congressman who is fully dedicated to serving their constituents. Unfortunately, Madison Cawthorn has fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives, and voters now have several well-qualified candidates to choose from who would be a significant improvement," Tillis said in a statement.

The statement comes after a string of controversies involving the 26-year-old Cawthorn. The first-term congressman was charged this month with speeding and driving with a revoked license. He also called Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “thug,” and he claimed people in Washington, DC had invited him to orgies, and he’s seen some do cocaine. The comments drew condemnations from several members of his party.

The State Board of Elections has until April 11 to decide whether to appeal Myers' preliminary injunction.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal