North Carolina congressman, Walter Jones, who has represented the 3rd District in the eastern part of the state since 1995, made it official today that he will not seek reelection in 2020. Jones had indicated during his 2018 primary race that he intended to serve only one more term.
His chief of staff, Joshua Bowlen, confirmed today that Jones will step down after the 116th Congress, which officially kicks off tomorrow.
“Congressman Jones has made it clear for the last year that this upcoming Congress will be his last,” Bowlen told NC Policy Watch in an email.
Jones’ district as presently constituted is solidly Republican. President Trump won by a margin of 24 points in 2016, according to The Washington Post. Jones was unchallenged in last year’s general election.
Though Jones, a conservative and former Democrat, had generally adhered to the GOP line on most issues, he has bucked the party establishment on multiple occasions — particularly on matters of foreign policy. A March 2018 story in The Nation by veteran North Carolina journalist Barry Yeoman noted that:
In 2005, Jones renounced his vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq, and ever since he’s been a dissenting voice within the Republican Party. He has challenged three presidents on their use of force, calling on his congressional colleagues to increase their military oversight. And he has long decried the corrupting effect of big-dollar campaign contributions. “Whatever happened to honesty and integrity?” he asked me, almost as soon as I stepped into his office. “It’s gone, and it’s all because of the influence of money.”
The nonprofit newsroom ProPublica ranks Jones first among House members in voting against their own party—he’s done so almost 40 percent of the time since January 2017. That independent streak has been all the more conspicuous during the Trump administration, as his fellow Republican lawmakers scramble to make a show of party unity.
Raleigh’s News & Observer reported in December that Jones missed extended periods and multiple House votes in 2018 due to health issues.
Robin Bravender is the Washington Bureau Chief for The Newsroom network, of which NC Policy Watch is a member. Rob Schofield contributed to this story.