The 25-year-old won a contentious race in which accusations and insults flew between him and his Democratic opponent
Madison Cawthorn
Rep. Madison Cawthorn
| Credit: Madison Cawthorn for Congress/Facebook

Madison Cawthorn will become the youngest member of Congress after winning his House race in North Carolina on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press' projection.

The 25-year-old Republican defeated his 62-year-old Democratic opponent, Moe Davis, to win the state’s vacant 11th district seat.

The seat was left open after Rep. Mark Meadows was named President Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff.

Cawthorn, who has used a wheelchair since a paralyzing car crash when he was 18, won Tuesday’s race despite growing scrutiny about his rhetoric toward the end of the campaign, as attacks between him and Davis ramped up heading toward Election Day.

“Cry more, lib,” the newly elected congressman tweeted Tuesday night — his first social media statement after the AP called his victory.

Madison Cawthorn speaking at the 2020 Republican National Convention
| Credit: RNC2020

Cawthorn’s campaign told PEOPLE that the young incoming lawmaker responded “ecstatically” after learning the results.

“This election showed that we’re a divided people,” Cawthorn said in a statement. “Americans are hungry for leadership that appeals to our highest aspirations, and that’s precisely what I intend to do.”

Controversy surrounded the newly elected congressman’s campaign in the final months, highlighted by Davis accusing him of being a “sexual predator” on Twitter hours before the polls closed on Tuesday.

Cawthorn has acknowledged sexual misconduct allegations made against him in an interview with the Smoky Mountain News.

He’s also gone on the defensive in recent weeks amid additional scrutiny, apologizing after making a racist statement in late October, according to The Mountaineer.

Madison Cawthorn
Madison Cawthorn
| Credit: Madison Cawthorn for Congress/Facebook

The Constitution requires members of the House of Representatives to be at least 25, which Cawthorn turned on Aug. 1.

Cawthorn describes himself as a “Constitutional conservative” and a Trump supporter, delivering a speech in support of the president's re-election at the Republican National Convention in August.

His election Tuesday makes him the youngest representative to be voted into the current Congress, according to The New York Times.

The incoming GOP lawmaker is also the youngest person to be elected to Congress in at least 50 years, the Times also reports, claiming the current title from Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was 29 when she was elected.

Cawthorn noted his age in his victory statement.

“Tonight, the voters of Western North Carolina said it’s time for a new generation of leadership to apply those timeless truths and principles to today’s challenges,” Cawthorn said.