Rep. Jones Beats Establishment Candidate in N.C. Primary

By:  Jack Kenny
Rep. Jones Beats Establishment Candidate in N.C. Primary

U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.), a 20-year incumbent whose conversion from military "hawk" to anti-interventionist drew opposition from the GOP establishment, beat back a well-financed challenge from a former Bush White House and Treasury Department communications aide in Tuesday's Republican primary election in the Third District of North Carolina.

The unofficial returns showed Jones, often criticized for his opposition to both foreign aid and wars of choice, defeating Taylor Griffin 51 to 46 percent, with 91 percent of the vote tallied. A third candidate, Albin "Big Al" Novinec, received four percent. Griffin, 38, had the backing and financial support of the Emergency Committee for Israel, an organization taking aim at Jones's opposition to foreign aid, and Ending Spending Fund, a political action committee that ran ads portraying Jones as a liberal despite his long record of conservative stands on fiscal and social issues. The two groups spent nearly a combined $1 million in support of Griffin, the News & Observer in Raleigh reported.

Jones, 70, is the son of the late Democratic congressman Walter B. Jones, Sr. and was a Democrat himself before he changed parties and won election to the Third District seat as a Republican in 1994. Like most of his colleagues he supported most U.S. military missions, and early in 2003 his support for the Iraq War was so strong that that he and fellow GOP Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio led a successful effort to rename French fries "Freedom fries" in the House cafeteria as a protest against French opposition to the war. (The name was changed back in 2006.) When the invasion and occupation of Iraq turned up none of the "weapons of mass destruction" that the Bush administration claimed was the main reason for going to war, Jones turned against the continued U.S. troop presence there, calling for a withdrawal as early as 2006 and again in 2008.

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Photo of Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.): AP Images

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