Walter Beaman Jones, Jr. (born February 10, 1943, in Farmville, North Carolina) is the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 3rd congressional district, serving since 1995. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district encompasses the Outer Banks and areas near the Pamlico Sound. Jones' father was Walter B. Jones, Sr., a Democratic Party congressman from the neighboring 1st district. The younger Jones has long since dropped the "Jr." from his name.
Early life, education, and business career
Jones is a lifelong resident of Farmville, a suburb of Greenville, North Carolina. He attended Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia, and graduated in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts from Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, North Carolina before serving four years (1967–1971) in the North Carolina National Guard. He worked as an executive with his family's business supply company.
North Carolina legislature
Jones was first elected as a Democrat to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1982 and served for five terms, until 1992. He represented Pitt County. He was known in the North Carolina House for his advocacy of campaign finance reform and lobbying reform.
U.S. House of Representatives
Shortly after his father died in 1992, Jones ran for his father's seat in North Carolina's 1st congressional district. He ranked first in the Democratic primary with 38% of the vote, but failed to reach the 50% threshold to win the nomination. In the run-off election, he was defeated by Eva Clayton, Chairwoman of the Warren County Board of Commissioners, by a margin of 55%-45%. The key to the upset was the fact that it was a 57% black majority district. She also got the support from three of the defeated primary candidates and from the African American community.
In 1994, he switched parties and ran in North Carolina's 3rd congressional district.
The race was initially very close until Jones released a picture of Lancaster jogging with President Bill Clinton, whose socially liberal stands (especially on gays in the military) angered many voters in this district. Although Democrats have a large advantage in registered voters, the 3rd has always had a very strong social conservative tint; Jesse Helms in particular had a large base of support here. As part of the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, he defeated incumbent Democrat Martin Lancaster 53%-47%. With his victory, Jones became the first (and as of the 2008 elections and only Republican to represent a significant portion of eastern North Carolina in the House since Reconstruction. The 3rd had incorporated a large amount of his father's former territory.
Since 1994, he has won re-election with at least 61% in every general election.
His most serious general election challenge came in 2000, when his opponent spent well in excess of $1.4 million in attempting to unseat him. Jones garnered 61% of the vote in that contest, largely helped by George W. Bush winning the 3rd with his highest victory margin in the state. That was his lowest winning percentage of a re-election campaign in his career.
He was easily re-elected to a 7th term in 2006, receiving 69% of the vote despite a very bad result for Republicans overall.
Unlike Walter, Sr., a moderate Democrat, Jones has a somewhat conservative voting record according to the American Conservative Union, with a lifetime rating of 86.2 from that interest group. However, his voting record has drifted more toward the left in recent years according to the group's ranking.
In the last three years, he received some of the lowest ACU ratings of any Republican from the South. In 2006, he received a 79, in 2007 he received a 71, in 2008 he received a 58, in 2009 he received a 83 and in 2010 he received a 65, his lowest rating ever. The former four ratings were the lowest recorded in those years for a Republican from North Carolina.
Jones said that his father was able to vote his conscience until he became a member of the House Democratic leadership, at which time he had to vote with the party line, as when he opposed but still voted for the 1975 federal bailout of a bankrupt New York City: "He had to vote it that way. I would rather do what I think is right than to sell my political soul." Jones drifted towards the libertarian spectrum when he changed his positions on foreign policy including the Iraqi war.
Jones opposes pork barrel spending projects and is a staunch advocate of federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act and voted for H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. In 2008, he opposed H.R. 5767, the Payment Systems Protection Act (a bill that sought to place a moratorium on enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act while the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve defined "unlawful Internet gambling").
Jones has sided with the Democrats on economic issues such as raising the minimum wage. He is an animal lover and has said he would like a memorial created on the National Mall for war dogs. Jones endorsed Ron Paul in the 2008 race for president of the United States. In an annual survey conducted by Washingtonian magazine, Congressional staffers voted Jones the "kindest" member of the House.
In 2007, Jones cosponsored legislation with fellow North Carolina congressman Heath Shuler to require airlines to have sections of the aircraft where large movie screens were not visible. This was to avoid the situation where children could watch films potentially objectionable by their parents. He also was the only Republican co-sponsor of legislation to challenge Tom DeLay's proposed changes to House ethics rules.
On February 14, 2008, Rep. Jones was one of only three Republicans (along with Ron Paul and Wayne Gilchrest) to vote to hold George W. Bush confidantes Joshua Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress for failing to testify and provide documents relevant to the firing of federal prosecutors. On September 15, 2009, Jones was one of only seven Republicans to vote for a resolution of disapproval of fellow Representative Joe Wilson for his actions during President Obama's address to a Joint Session of Congress on September 9, 2009.
Jones presents the Walter B. Jones Campus Defender of Freedom Award to a North Carolina activist selected by a committee at Duke University, including the Duke College Republicans; in 2009, Jones presented the award to B.J. Lawson. At the 2009 ceremony, Jones said that "The Republican party needs to have a face that can be seen and identified with by people of all races. The future of the Republic party lies in being able to relate to the average working family." He also spoke in favor of making Duke's endowment more transparent, saying that he is in favor of more openness on the part of institutions: "To me, sunshine is the answer."
On April 15, 2011, Jones was one of four Republican members of congress to vote against The Path to Prosperity.
Jones was raised a Southern Baptist but is a Roman Catholic convert.
A park in Havelock, North Carolina was named after Jones and is simply called Walter B. Jones Park.
January 9th, 2012