Walter Jones & 3 Other House Members Have Primary Challenger

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Only four members of North Carolina's House delegation faced challenges in Tuesday's primary, among them seven-term GOP Rep. Walter Jones, who famously brought "freedom fries" to Washington before turning against the war in Iraq.

Jones has previously been considered a safe incumbent. He had no primary challenger in 2006, and his margin of victory in the general election that year was 38 percentage points.

But his increasing stand against the war during the past two years has placed him further at odds with the Republican Party in his district, home to the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune and other bases.

Jones wrote to President Bush to oppose the 2007 boost in troop levels and was one of two GOP congressmen to vote against the administration's terrorist surveillance program.

Jones was also one of a handful of Republican congressmen to vote in favor of a timetable for troop withdrawals last year. One of the others - Maryland Rep. Wayne Gilchrest - lost his primary in February.

Jones' opponent in Tuesday's primary, Joe McLaughlin, has said the district needs a congressman who supports the Marines and soldiers fighting in Iraq and called the war a "noble cause" that the United States cannot lose. McLaughlin is a former Army officer at Fort Bragg and county commissioner in the community that surrounds Camp Lejeune.

Incumbent GOP Rep. Sue Myrick, of Charlotte; Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry, of Cherryville; and Democratic Rep. Brad Miller, of Raleigh, also faced challengers in the primary.


Freshman Rep. Heath Shuler was one of the nine members of the 13-member delegation who didn't face a primary opponent and will cruise uncontested to the November election. A former football star at the University of Tennessee, Shuler won western North Carolina's 11th District by almost 8 percentage points two years ago.

A moderate who defends gun rights and opposes abortion, he has been careful not to upset conservative voters in his district. He has broken with his party on several occasions, including last month when he voted against a Democratic budget that he didn't think did enough to protect tax cuts targeted to the middle class.

Shuler, a Democratic superdelegate, said Monday that he plans to endorse the Democratic presidential candidate who wins the most votes in his district.

Of the three Republicans challenging Shuler, only former Henderson County GOP chairman Spence Campbell has reported strong fundraising numbers.

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