When former President Donald Trump addresses thousands of his supporters in Johnston County on Saturday, he will be putting his reputation on the line to tout his support for a string of North Carolina Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in competitive congressional races.
The candidates Trump supports represent a wing of the party that is further right ideologically, and in some cases, heavily opposed by veteran politicians. The split is perhaps most visible for one of Trump’s most divisive supporters scheduled to speak at the event.
U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who has irritated longtime officeholders with attacks against members of his own party and positions out of step with prevailing GOP attitudes, is running for reelection in the state’s westernmost district. He’s being challenged by seven other Republican candidates in the district after having planned a run in a district outside Charlotte, upending a possible run by state House Speaker Tim Moore.