An Eastern North Carolina native now living in New Bern has announced his bid to run for U.S. House against Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-Farmville, in the 2014 primary.
Taylor Griffin, a 38-year-old Republican businessman who grew up in Wilson, came to New Bern and Fairfield Harbour about a month ago to live and launch his nomination challenge to Jones, the 10-term representative.
Griffin said he came home after selling his interests in a successful Washington, D.C., public affairs consulting firm he helped establish in 2010 because “as a conservative Republican, I think the people of Eastern North Carolina deserve better.”
Griffin is single and not working now because “I think running for Congress is sort of a full-time job” as a political newcomer to a district as large as N.C.’s U.S. House District 3, which no longer includes his hometown.
A graduate of Appalachian State University in political science after working on Republican campaigns in Wilson County and Boone, Griffin went to Washington to work for the late Sen. Jesse Helms. He later worked on both of former President George W. Bush’s campaigns and then on his staff in the White House dealing with the Treasury Department.
Griffin said Thursday his challenge to Jones comes “first of all because, when you look at his voting record it doesn’t reflect Eastern North Carolina values.”
“Jones is the most liberal Republican in the House,” he said, and, as a result, even his well-intentioned and regionally-supported efforts fail because “he has few allies. You have to work with people to get things done.”
He cited a Feb. 23, 2012, congressional ranking by the National Journal, which he said “assigned Jones a liberal score of 58.5, the highest of any House Republican.”
“Helms taught me that you don’t have to abandon principles,” Griffin said. “But there is a difference between being a conservative and putting those principles in action.”
“It is one thing to talk about fiscal responsibility and another to make the tough decisions that cut federal spending,” he said.
In discussion on issues he said he would take on the campaign trail, Griffin said he differs from Jones on many foreign and domestic policy positions, from negotiating with Iran to food stamp funding. And, while he respects Jones’ steadfast “antiwar stance,” he thinks “it comes at the cost of effectiveness for his constituents.”
Griffin said he was born in Raleigh and raised in Eastern North Carolina to a family with roots going back more than 300 years and to the American Revolution, and has an ancestor who was a representative of North Carolina’s Constitutional Conventions.
An avid hunter and fisherman, Griffin said, he and his brother keep a boat in Wilmington, and it was in Eastern North Carolina where he learned to fish and where “my granddad gave me my first real gun and taught me to shoot.”
“But most importantly, I was raised here in Eastern North Carolina to love my faith, my family, my state and my country,” he said, and “the conservative principles and values that made this nation great.”
He is the son of Courtenay Gilmore Griffin and Shelton Griffin, who recently retired from Alliance One in Farmville after 30 years in the tobacco industry.
With Doug Raymond of Morehead City as his campaign manager, Griffin and his aides said he plans to do fundraising $20 to $50 at a time while meeting the people of the district.
Sue Book is a reporter for the Sun Journal.