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‘I look forward to taking the gavel out of Nancy Pelosi’s hands,’ Edwards says

Chuck Edwards speaks to a Republican audience in March. Chuck Edwards speaks to a Republican audience in March.

Early on in his campaign to win the Republican nomination for the 11th Congressional District, state Sen. Chuck Edwards compared the incumbent to the Kardashians — all shiny object and no workaday substance.

Rarely known for his sense of humor, Edwards had a bit of fun on his way to drawing a stark contrast between his high-profile incumbent, 26-year-old Madison Cawthorn, and his own record as a state legislator who had made managed to get things done for his Hendersonville-centered district in three terms in the North Carolina Senate.
In what turned out to be a fatal miscalculation, Cawthorn announced his intention late last year to move down the mountain to run in a newly drawn — and even redder — district outside of Charlotte. By the time Cawthorn reversed course and decided to stay home, Edwards and six other challengers had entered the race Republican primary for his seat.
Edwards, who overwhelmed Cawthorn in 30-second spots on the evening news and in a slick direct mail campaign, defeated the youngest member of Congress by 1,352 votes to cruise into position to win what remains a Republican-strong district on Nov. 8. He faces Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, the Buncombe County commissioner, ordained minister and LGBTQ activist who vanquished the field to secure the Democratic nomination.
Here’s the Lightning’s Q&A with Edwards.
When Rep. Cawthorn changed his mind and decided to defend his seat did you consider pulling out and staying in the state Senate?
Edwards: “It certainly was a consideration but after he decided to come back I was more convicted than ever to stay here in the mountains because I felt like we needed someone to represent us that truly had the interest of the people in the mountains at heart and wasn’t seeking a political career.”
Can you draw on a general outline of your strategy in this race?
“That was quite simple. I worked to illustrate my business background and my legislative history of success with the people of the mountains. I’ve represented for the last six years and the North Carolina Senate about 40 percent of the people in this district. So our strategy was to get up and meet folks in the other 12 counties. Make them aware of Chuck Edwards and talking about success and business success and public service and what I had been able to accomplish in the North Carolina Senate.”
In the course of the campaign it seemed like almost a daily whack-a-mole of revelations about Madison Cawthorn. What was your sense of what was going on in the 11th Congressional District in the in the weeks and days heading into the primary election?
“We stayed solely focused on our campaign strategy. There were a lot of distractions out there with different news reports, different candidates taking different tactics. We stayed true to our original message, which was just to introduce Chuck Edwards to folks that did not yet know him.”
Who came up with the Kardashian line?
“I really can’t remember where that came from. One of the script writers to help us with the TV commercials.”
Did the outcome surprise you?
“I was confident that we were going to win it. I never expected a runoff, even with eight people in the race.”
What did Rep. Cawthorn say when he called you on election night?
“He offered his congratulations in a very gracious and tactful manner and offered his support to help me win in November in absolutely any way he could contribute.”

Have you heard in the past 48 hours from the Republican congressional campaign committee nationally?
“Oh, yeah, absolutely. I did get some communication from them, congratulating me on our win and assuring me that they would be with me to help win the election in November.”
What is your strategy and plan to run against your Democratic opponent, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara?
“The primary strategy is going to be to illustrate how the current Biden administration is failing the people of these mountains and to stick with introducing me to folks that are not yet aware of my business and legislative background.”
I suppose you’d have still some plans for campaign fundraising as well.
“We will be going into hyper overdrive raising funds.”
Do you have in mind if you were to win and then be sworn in next January the first two or three things you’d like to do?
“The first thing I’m looking forward to is taking the gavel out of Nancy Pelosi’s hands.”

Do you plan to complete your Senate term?
“I’m no quitter. I’m going to complete the task the voters of Henderson, Transylvania and Buncombe County hired me to do.”

Is there anything else you want people to know?
“It’s unfortunate that in primary campaigns a lot of misinformation is presented to the voters. Probably the most significant misinformation was about me and my support of voter ID.” The charge in a 30-second spot for Bruce O’Connell “was an absolute unfounded smear. I’d like for folks out there to know that I have never voted against voter ID. I have and will always continue to support bringing voter ID to North Carolinians.”