Congressman Walter Jones Jr. of North Carolina dies at 76

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. of North Carolina, a once-fervent supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq who later grew to become an equally outspoken critic of the conflict, died Sunday on his 76th birthday.

The congressman’s workplace confirmed his demise in a press release, saying Jones died in Greenville, North Carolina. His well being declining in current months, Jones entered hospice care in January after breaking his hip. He had been granted a depart of absence from Congress in late 2018 and was sworn in for his final time period again dwelling.

Jones was a political maverick unafraid to buck his personal celebration. He was one of many first Republicans to reverse course on the conflict in Iraq, whilst his North Carolina district included the sprawling Marine set up Camp Lejeune.

His final opposition to the Iraq conflict got here with the irony that he instigated a symbolic slap in opposition to the French when their nation early on opposed U.S. navy motion. Jones was among the many Home members who led a marketing campaign that resulted within the chamber’s cafeteria providing “freedom fries” and “freedom toast” — as an alternative of French fries and French toast.

Jones stated he launched laws that will have required President George W. Bush’s administration to start withdrawing troops in 2006 as a result of the explanation given for invading Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, had proved false.

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“If I had identified then what I do know now, I wouldn’t have supported the decision” to go to conflict, Jones stated in 2005. Jones took warmth for his reversal from GOP colleagues. He finally signed nicely over 11,000 letters to the households of useless troops, describing that as a penance of types.

“For me, it’s a sacred duty that I’ve to speak my condolences to a household,” Jones stated in a 2017 interview with The Related Press. “And it’s very particular to me as a result of it goes again to my regretting that I voted to enter the Iraq conflict.”

Jones, who had served in Congress since 1995, had already introduced his 2018 marketing campaign could be his final. His demise means Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will schedule a particular election to determine who will full Jones’ two-year time period within the coastal third Congressional District. State regulation requires the schedule embrace main races as nicely within the GOP-leaning district. No particular dates are mandated within the regulation for the elections.

Jones additionally was a relentless advocate for marketing campaign finance reform and controlling the nationwide debt. The fiscal and social conservative gained unopposed in final November’s common election after heading off Republican main challengers stoked partly by Jones’ willingness to dissent from the Washington leaders of his celebration. For instance, he voted in opposition to the tax overhaul promoted by President Donald Trump and a “repeal and exchange” plan for President Barack Obama’s well being care regulation.

In a 2018 AP interview, Jones stated that he wasn’t afraid to oppose GOP leaders “once I don’t suppose they’re proper.”

“It’s completely about precept,” he stated. “Once I depart Congress, I’d fairly have one factor stated about me: ‘I’ll by no means query Walter Jones’ integrity.’”

Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated in a launch that Jones’ “relentless work on behalf of our women and men in uniform, veterans, navy households and caregivers honored our American values and strengthened our nation.”

“He shall be lengthy remembered for his tireless advocacy for japanese North Carolina, which he liked dearly, and for all the time following his convictions, irrespective of the political value,” added Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Both Jones or his father, Walter Jones Sr., represented japanese North Carolina in Congress for 5 many years. The elder Jones, a Democrat, represented the area from 1966 till his demise in 1992. Walter Jones Jr., then additionally a Democrat, misplaced the celebration main to succeed him. He grew to become a Republican and was despatched to Washington two years later.

Walter Beamon Jones Jr. was born in Farmville in 1943. He attended Hargrave Army Academy in Virginia throughout highschool after which graduated with a bachelor’s diploma from Atlantic Christian Faculty — now often known as Barton Faculty — in 1966.

He served within the North Carolina state Home from 1982 by means of 1992, the place he typically clashed with Democratic leaders. He and Cooper had been amongst 20 Home Democrats who joined Republicans in toppling state Democratic Speaker Liston Ramsey from energy in 1989.

In a press release, Cooper on Sunday referred to as Jones a longtime good friend and “public servant who was true to his convictions and who shall be missed.”

Survivors embrace his spouse, Joe Anne, and a daughter, Ashley. Funeral preparations weren’t instantly introduced.

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Related Press writers Jonathan Drew and Martha Waggoner contributed to this report.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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