Rep. Jones survives well-funded challenge

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) has bested his primary challenger, beating back an onslaught of attacks from establishment Republicans.

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The Associated Press has called the race for the iconoclastic Jones, who was leading Bush administration official Taylor Griffin (R) by 53 percent to 44 percent with 71 percent of precincts reporting. The win all but guarantees him an 11th term in the House in the heavily Republican district.

The race was Jones’s hardest fought since he first won the seat, and his win comes in spite of heavy spending from two national GOP groups. The fiscally conservative Ending Spending super-PAC and the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the district.

Griffin benefited from a number of endorsements (and behind-the-scenes help) from former Bush administration officials including former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, as well as a late endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who he worked for while on the McCain-Palin presidential campaign.

Jones has long been a thorn in the side of GOP leadership.

After initially supporting the war in Iraq, Jones became a leading Republican critic of President Bush of the war, allying with then-fellow Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to eviscerate Bush on a number of occasions.

He’s also increasingly split with party leaders on fiscal issues, voting for Democrats’ Wall Street reform bill and against Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budgets because he doesn’t think they cut enough foreign aid. He also refused to endorse both McCain and Mitt Romney for president, backing Paul both times.

Republican leaders stripped Jones and four other uncompromising House Republicans of their committee assignments in late 2012. A month later, he was one of nine to vote against keeping House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as head of the conference. 

His primary win all but guarantees he'll remain a headache for GOP leaders in the House.

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