May 5, 2022 - Politics

Bo Hines isn't interested in being the next Madison Cawthorn

NC-13 congressional candidate Bo Hines speaking at a rally.
Bo Hines. Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Even Bo Hines, widely viewed as the "next Madison Cawthorn," appears to be distancing himself from the North Carolina representative.

What's happening: Ahead of North Carolina's May 17 primary, Cawthorn's controversies are piling up.

  • Republican congressional candidate Hines, who's running for the state's 13th district, told Axios in a recent interview he hopes he's not the next Cawthorn.

"We're nothing alike. We have completely different backgrounds, completely different pasts," said Hines, who, like Cawthorn, is 26. "Our only similarity is our age and our social conservative values."

Hines emphasized they do have some things in common, though: "We still have those core conservative values like pro-life, free speech, you know, protecting parents rights, all that kind of stuff."

Why it matters: Hines' decision to keep Cawthorn at an arm's length signals that associating with him may be hurting his chances at the ballot box.

  • It also signals that Cawthorn's blunders are continuing to splinter North Carolina Republicans, including those who have long aligned themselves with the controversial politician.
  • Numerous leading Republicans have pulled away from Cawthorn after the freshman congressman said in March some of his Washington colleagues had invited him to an orgy. He admitted to exaggerating the claim shortly after.
  • In recent weeks, Cawthorn has also been charged with a misdemeanor and is facing allegations of both inappropriate or illegal behavior. Some of those were the subject of a recent political ad funded by a group that has previously supported other Republicans.

State of play: Cawthorn endorsed Hines last fall. They have also appeared numerous times together since then — including at a North Carolina rally in April alongside former President Donald Trump.

Yes, but: Hines said he plans to govern differently than Cawthorn. One year into his term, Cawthorn had missed more than 16% of votes in the House, Axios reported in March 2021.

  • "I'm not going to miss votes," Hines said. "I'll tell you that."

Flashback: In a Newsmax interview shared shortly after Hines announced in January 2021 that he was running for Congress, he said he liked "what Madison is doing up on the hill" and was looking forward to building a relationship with him.

  • In a video posted to Twitter in September, Cawthorn rallied support for Hines, saying "there's a new generation of Republicans rising."

The other side: Hines' critics say it won’t be that easy to separate himself. "Bo is Madison," said Republican political operative Charles Hellwig, a senior advisor for Hines' opponent Kelly Daughtry's campaign.

  • Hellwig pointed to Hines changing districts numerous times before settling on a run in the 13th district.
  • Cawthorn also considered switching districts before new congressional maps were drawn
  • "These are two political animals looking for their next job," Hellwig said. "Bo, like Madison, seems more interested in the glory of being a congressman than actually doing the job of a congressman."

Hines, who recently moved to the 13th district, told Axios that, as part of his efforts to "fight to the best of our ability as conservatives," he's trying to broaden the Republican party’s base to attract more young people.

The big picture: "Our message is one of opportunity. It's one of inclusivity," Hines said. "Our message is that we want all people to be able to have the opportunity to thrive in our society and thrive in our country, regardless of what they come from, what they look like, or what God they worship."

  • He added: "I still believe that it's conservative to preserve where we live, right? We want clean air. We want clean water. I don't think that's a liberal or conservative issue."
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