Roll Call reports on the effort to unseat Rep. Walter Jones, one of the few antiwar Republicans in Congress:
A well-funded conservative outside group is devoting significant money to an attempt to make North Carolina GOP Rep. Walter B. Jones the first incumbent to fall this cycle, but Republicans in the state are skeptical the sudden burst of spending will ultimately be enough to take Jones out.
Jones is reportedly facing stronger competition than he has in the past, but the effort to defeat him in the primary seems unlikely to work. I doubt that voters in his district are going to discount what they know about him and vote him out because some outside groups start calling him a liberal. Attacking him for not toeing a super-hawkish “pro-Israel” line is predictable, but it also seems rather pathetic. Of course, it’s true that Jones has changed some of his views over time. Unlike many of his colleagues, he recognized the Iraq war for the disaster that it was fairly early on, and then became a consistent opponent of unnecessary and costly U.S. military interventions. That hasn’t seemed to hurt him with voters in his district, many of whom have presumably become similarly wary of involving the U.S. in foreign conflicts. Jones has faced primary challenges because of his antiwar views before, but he has never seriously been in danger of losing.
The new campaign to defeat him is well-funded, but there isn’t any good reason why Republicans in Jones’ district should want to replace him. No doubt hard-liners in the party would like to defeat Jones, but they are increasingly at odds with what people in their own party want on foreign policy. Jones is one of the few consistent voices of opposition to hard-liners’ horrible policies, and he combines that opposition with a thoroughly conservative voting record. So far, that has been a winning combination for him in North Carolina, as it could be for Republicans in other parts of the country as well.