05/08/07 — Congressional candidate here Wednesday

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Congressional candidate here Wednesday

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 8, 2007 1:49 PM

After cruising to an easy victory in 2006, U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, already has a challenger for the 2008 Republican primary.

Today and Wednesday, Onslow County Commissioner Joe McLaughlin will be traveling around the 3rd Congressional District to announce his candidacy for the seat held by Jones, a 13-year incumbent. He will stop in Goldsboro on Wednesday at 5 p.m., at McCall's Bar-B-Que & Seafood Restaurant.

"It will be an appearance to make an announcement speech and then maybe take some questions and answers," McLaughlin said.

It will be the last of his seven stops in Pitt, Wilson, Wayne, Craven, Carteret and Onslow counties.

"This is the hard part. I'm a Republican challenging a seven-term incumbent Republican," he added. "But in the primary one year from now, there will be a clear choice for Republicans in the 3rd District."

McLaughlin, 52, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, spent 18 years in the U.S. Army, completing Ranger School. He retired in 1994 as a major in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville. He has been a county commissioner since 2000 and also works as a financial planner in Jacksonville, where he lives with his wife and three children.

Because of his military background he feels he has a responsibility to run against Jones.

"Having watched my congressman over the last two years become somebody I barely recognize, that's just compelled me to run," McLaughlin said. "I can't pick up a ruck anymore, but I'm running because it just cannot be that the congressman for the 3rd District, which has more troops in the fight than probably any other district in the country -- it cannot be that this congressman is standing shoulder to shoulder with the liberals in Congress."