Walter Jones, the ten-term Republican congressman representing North Carolina’s third congressional district, survived a primary challenge on Tuesday, defeating former Bush aide Taylor Griffin by a 51 to 45 percent margin, with 93 percent of precincts reporting.
The race attracted outside groups looking to unseat the 74-year-old Jones for his quirky votes on fiscal and budgetary matters — he opposed the Ryan budget because it does not go far enough, for example, and supported the Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill — as well as for his iconoclastic views on foreign policy. Over the past decade, Jones, initially one of the GOP’s strongest supporters of the Iraq War, has become one of the party’s leading voices for pulling out of Afghanistan, and for a more restrained foreign policy in general. Ending Spending, the super PAC bankrolled by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, and the hawkish Emergency Committee for Israel, spent over $1 million trying to unseat him. I wrote about the race last month:
At a time when the longstanding Republican foreign-policy consensus has frayed, and when the views of the party’s potential 2016 nominees range from Rand Paul’s libertarian distrust of foreign entanglements to Marco Rubio’s more hawkish view of America’s role in the world, this battle will test the extent to which a traditional Republican outlook on foreign policy — a muscular defense and a strong support for America’s relationship with Israel — remains a litmus test among the GOP faithful.
Over the past decade, Jones, once voted the “kindest” member of Congress, has done an about-face on foreign affairs, going from the target of liberal ire for his attempt to rename the House cafeteria’s French fries “freedom fries” to one of the GOP’s most ardent opponents of the Iraq War. He is an embodiment of a larger unraveling of the Bush-era foreign-policy consensus that saw, for instance, former Texas congressman Ron Paul rise to some prominence within the party.
But with Jones, the turn of events was so swift that the liberal Mother Jones magazine featured him on the cover of its January/February 2006 issue in a piece that chronicled the Republican congressman’s “road to Damascus.”
Rand Paul, take heart. The full piece is here.