Incumbent U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. of Farmville will face two challengers in Tuesday's Republican primary: Taylor Griffin of Trent Woods and Phil Law of Jacksonville.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. of Farmville will face two challengers in Tuesday’s Republican primary: Taylor Griffin of Trent Woods and Phil Law of Jacksonville.
Jones has served 32 years in political office, 10 years in the N.C. House of Representatives and 22 years in the U.S. House.
With the primary looming, Jones said Friday he never takes anything for granted and always campaigns as hard as he can until the election is over.
“I trust that the people of the 3rd District will look at my record and see that I have consistently represented their views and the values of Eastern North Carolina in Washington,” Jones said in an email interview. “I have the best staff in the country who provide excellent constituent services, and I have faith people will remember that.”
Jones said he was very fortunate to have such a strong, well-organized campaign in this election.
“We are blessed to have three times the number of volunteers as we’ve had in the past, which is definitely helpful in getting the word out,” he said. “We are running phone banks, walking precincts and knocking on doors, reaching out to voters through social media, sending out mail pieces. We have county coordinators in every county of the district who are taking every opportunity to speak to the voters and make sure they are informed.”
During the campaign, Jones said has been hearing the same things that every other member of Congress is hearing.
“People are frustrated,” he said. “They are concerned with the direction in which our country is heading. The federal debt is now over $19 trillion. If America doesn’t get that debt under control, the economic outlook is bleak. That’s why I’m so outspoken against the party leaders on both sides of the aisle who’ve cut all these bad deals to continue the wasteful spending in Washington. Since 2004, I’m the only congressman to vote against every increase in the debt limit, and every debt-filled budget bill. And over that time, I’ve voted against more spending bills than all but one other GOP member of Congress. I’ll continue to vote that way because I truly believe our economic future depends on it.”
Jones said his last-minute appeal to voters is to assure them “we don’t need another rubber stamp to vote for the bad, back room deals cut by special interests and party leaders in Washington.”
“We need a conservative voice to fight the big spenders in Washington, not join them,” he said. “I have been that voice. I voted against the Wall Street bailouts and Obamacare because of the detriment they caused to taxpayers. I have fought the Establishment and Washington Elite to do what is right for the people of the 3rd District, including leading the charge to evict John Boehner from the Speakership.”
Taking care of veterans and active duty service members is Jones’ top priority, he said.
“We made a promise to them and it is our responsibility to make good on that promise,” Jones said. “This is why I have co-sponsored more bills to help our veterans and active duty service members than any other member of Congress over the last three years. We need to return this country to the Constitution and Judeo-Christian values upon which it was founded. My record proves that I have always fought to do just that.”
Griffin worked for the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms after earning a political science degree from Appalachian State University. He also served in the White House and Treasury Department under President George W. Bush. He founded a public policy consulting firm, eventually selling it and moving to New Bern where he still does consulting work.
Griffin, 40, who lost the last election of the 3rd District to Jones, has been campaigning for three years.
“We came so close that time,” he said. “We had tremendous support in Craven County and won Craven County by about 13 percent. We came very close to winning last time.”
But unfortunately, he said, everything did not line up just right. Griffin lost by about 2,600 votes.
“I declared again because the concern remains the same: that we need an effective, consistently, conservative congressman to represent Eastern North Carolina and Eastern North Carolina’s interests in Congress and I don’t think we have that,” Griffin said. “I also think more broadly that career politicians are a lot of the problem in this country. Elective office should be a responsibility, not a career.
“Our founders sort of looked at it like jury duty. The regular rotation of representatives is pretty essential to making sure that our congress works well.”
Griffin said he has signed a term limit of four terms if elected. But he might settle on only three terms if he starts a family like he wants to, he said.
Griffin is no stranger to Washington either. When working with Helms, Griffin said he learned three things: Take care of the people you represent, hold fast to your principles, and care about putting those principles into action.
Griffin said he was a small government conservative who believes federal government should be doing less governing while state and local government should be doing more. An example is education. He believes state and local governments would better meet the educational needs of diverse counties than federal government.
Griffin, who is a strong advocate for Cherry Point, said he has a last-minute appeal for voters going to the polls Tuesday. It is to search for what is in their conscience.
“I think that the most important thing is to ask yourself is are you satisfied with the way our government is working for you?” he said. “And if the answer to that is no, it is time to try something different.”
Law said he believes the primary will have “extremely low turnout” because the congressional districts were redrawn and the primary was pushed back.
“But I think it will work in the challenger’s favor,” he said. “I’ve been campaigning on a really good grassroots campaign, with one-on-one interaction with people. I think it will help get our people out on election day.”
Law, a Marine infantry veteran who served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 and is a strong advocate of veteran issues, said the campaign has been exciting.
“This is the first time I have run for office and obviously it’s been a huge learning curve,” he said. “It has been very educational. I’ve met so many great people. It’s been exciting and terrifying at times. But it has been a true honor to run for the office and to have the ability to do that.”
Law, 34, said he was getting good reactions on the campaign trail.
“The thing is people are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils,” Law said. “On one hand, you have a candidate who has been in office too long; on the other hand you have a candidate who is bought and paid for by lobbyists. The people are looking for a vote they can be proud of.”
Law said if he had one appeal to the voters Tuesday he would tell them his feelings.
“I was in the Iraq War and I came back to this mess,” he said. “I’m fed up with what is going on in D.C. and I know a lot of other people are, too. But nothing is going to change unless you vote for someone else.”
The winner Tuesday faces the Democratic winner — David Allan Hurst or Ernest T. Reeves — in the November general election.
Polls are open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
On the Democratic side: Two choices for Democrats on Tuesday's ballot