Trump picks sides in GOP runoff for Mark Meadows' House seat

President Trump on Thursday said that he is endorsing Lynda Bennett for White House chief of staff Mark Meadows' old North Carolina House seat, backing the conservative political activist over her charismatic young opponent Madison Cawthorn.

"Please let this serve as my Complete and Total Endorsement of a great fighter and ally in North Carolina, @LyndaBennettNC," Trump tweeted Thursday morning. "She is strong on Crime, Borders, Military, our Great Vets & 2A. She will be a great help to me in DC. EARLY VOTING STARTS TODAY. We need Lynda Bennett!"

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Bennett earned 23 percent of the vote in the March 3 Republican primary for North Carolina's 11th Congressional District. Meadows had previously announced he was running for reelection but had not yet resigned to become Trump's chief of staff at that point. Cawthorn came in a close second in the primary with 20 percent of the vote, sending the contest to a runoff because no candidate got 30 percent of the initial primary vote.

The runoff is scheduled for June 23 and will likely decide who fills Meadows' seat in the solidly Republican district.

President Trump Thursday endorsed Lynda Bennett, a longtime conservative activist and favorite of Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to fill Meadows' old House seat. (Bennett campaign/Facebook)

President Trump Thursday endorsed Lynda Bennett, a longtime conservative activist and favorite of Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to fill Meadows' old House seat. (Bennett campaign/Facebook)

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Bennett, according to her campaign website, is endorsed by Meadows, along with other national Republicans: powerful Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and multiple other conservative organizations.

Her biography highlights her work in the private sector, her faith and her volunteer work with a large number of conservative organizations.

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Cawthorn, on the other hand, is just 24 years old, and will not meet the age requirement to serve in the House of Representatives until later this year. He was nominated by Jordan to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., as a teenager but never got to serve after a car accident left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair, according to his website.

But Cawthorn later served as a staff assistant for Meadows, according to the Washington Examiner, and is now putting up a formidable primary challenge to Meadows' chosen successor. Cawthorn's campaign site lists a number of local officials and former primary opponents who back his campaign.

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Both Bennett and Cawthorn say they are strong supporters of President Trump.

"Thank you, Mr. President," Bennett tweeted Thursday morning after Trump announced his support. "I am honored to have your endorsement and am excited to help you Keep America Great."

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