Monday, 18 February, 2019

Walter Jones, veteran North Carolina congressman, dies at 76

Walter Jones North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones dies at 76
Jeannette Daniel | 14 February, 2019, 03:59

Jones paid a price for his independence within his own party caucus, but he had his priorities straight when it came to important issues of war and peace. He was one of the first Republicans to reverse direction on the war in Iraq, even as his North Carolina district included the sprawling Marine installation Camp Lejeune.

In his career, Jones was once a strong supporter for the 2003 war against Iraq, including arguing that french fries and french toast served in the House cafeteria be renamed freedom fries and freedom toast in a mark of derision for France opposing the war.

"I did not do what I should have done to read and find out whether Bush was telling us the truth about Saddam being responsible for 9/11 and having weapons of mass destruction", Jones told a reporter in 2015. "Because I did not do my job then, I helped kill 4,000 Americans, and I will go to my grave regretting that". He ultimately signed well over 11,000 letters to the families of dead troops, describing that as a penance of sorts.

"If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn't have support the resolution", he said in 2005. He voted in favor of the second Iraq war, a vote he would later regret.

Jones, who had served in Congress since 1995, had already announced his 2018 campaign would be his last.

Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat representing the 1st Congressional District, administered Jones' oath of office in January.

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Cooper has not yet set the dates for those elections, which must include at least 45 days for absentee voting, according to federal law under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. He ran unopposed a year ago on his way to a 13th term.

"It's absolutely about principle", he said.

"Congressman Jones represented the best of North Carolina politics", said U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat who gave Jones the oath of office on January 4 during a private visit to Jones' home. "He was a champion for our men and women in uniform and their families, always mindful of their service and sacrifice".

"He will be long remembered for his tireless advocacy for eastern North Carolina, which he loved dearly, and for always following his convictions, no matter the political cost", added Republican U.S. Sen.

He also began visiting wounded servicemen at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center "to be reminded that war is hell - people die; people get wounded", he told the University of North Carolina student newspaper in 2017. "He was a proud representative of eastern North Carolina, and the residents of North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District are better off thanks to the lifelong service and dedication of Walter Jones".

Jones, the son of U.S. Congressman Walter B. Jones Sr., was a Democrat when he entered politics in the early 1980s. He became a Republican and was sent to Washington two years later. It was a true honor to serve with Walter Jones.

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