Coaxing a Party Switch in North Carolina
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 09:22:53 PM EDT
Back in March I pointed to the possibility that North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones, a conservative on most issues other than Iraq, where he has staked out an anti-war position, would leave the GOP and join the Democrats. Well, it hasn't happened yet, but perhaps it may soon given the way Jones' caucus is treating him. The Hill's Jackie Kucinich has the story.
Rep. Walter Jones's (N.C.) position on the Iraq war is likely to keep him out of the Armed Services Committee's Republican leadership despite his seniority, as the panel's ranking member mulls who will succeed former Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-Va.) as Readiness subcommittee ranking member, according to sources on both sides of the aisle.
A spokesman for Armed Services ranking member Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said he has yet to make a decision and is working through the process of naming a successor to Davis, who died Oct. 6 following a two-year battle with breast cancer.
Jones most likely will be passed over for the subcommittee's ranking member position for the second time in the 110th Congress, according to a congressional source familiar with the discussions. The anti-war Republican has been slighted in the past for siding with Democratic leadership on Iraq war resolutions.
Despite his party's dissatisfaction, Jones has found it easier to get things done for his district by working with Democrats, he said in an April interview with The Hill.
As I noted back in March, Jones has already previously been a member of the Democratic Party, having unsuccessfully run as a Democrat for the congressional seat being vacated by his father, also a Democrat, in 1992, before winning his current seat as a Republican in 1994. Were he to switch parties during this Congress, he would put a seat (North Carolina 3) that is otherwise not really in play for the Democrats (it leans about 15 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections, according to the Cook PVI) on the map.
There is little doubt that he would be among the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus were he to join it (either as a Democrat or a Democratic-leaning independent). To take one example, Jones voted against the expansion of SCHIP earlier this year -- though that can at least in part be chalked up to the fact that he represents a state uniquely hit by the increased tax on cigarettes (given the prominent role the tobacco industry plays in the North Carolina economy). That said, at least according to the 2006 National Journalvote rankings, Jones lines up on the left side of the aisle, voting liberally than 53.5 percent of his colleagues in the second session of the 109th Congress, which is about as good as one could ask for from a district as inherently Republican as North Carolina's third. So I, for one, would be happy to see Jones jump ship from the Republican Party.