05/07/08 — Your Votes - Web will battle incumbent Jones in U.S. Congress District 3 race

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Your Votes - Web will battle incumbent Jones in U.S. Congress District 3 race

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 7, 2008 2:07 PM

Facing his first primary since being first elected in 1994, U.S. Rep Walter Jones defeated challenger Joe McLaughlin by nearly 20 percent.

"It's humbling," Jones said. "I'm grateful for all the votes and will continue to do for the people of the 3rd District what I think is right. We do a lot of work for the people of the 3rd District and we'll just keep doing our job."

Seeking his eighth term in the U.S. House, Jones will be facing Democrat Craig Weber in November -- a rematch of their 2006 race.

Weber won his primary by a more than two-to-one margin over Marshall Adame.

"I think the people are just fed up," Weber, a former U.S. Marine and news anchor for WCTI TV, said. "And I think this was a vote that we've got to have change. Where we've spoken, we were well received."

And he's confident that his message can also carry the day against Jones.

"It's not just one issue," he said. "It's not just the war. It's not just immigration. The people have spoken and they want change.

"If this did anything, if you look at the numbers, Walter Jones is vulnerable."

But he wasn't vulnerable Tuesday, despite the predictions of many local party officials who felt his stance on the war in Iraq -- he voted last year in favor of a timetable for withdrawal -- and other issues, including terrorist surveillance, had separated him from the rest of the Republican Party.

"The majority of the people who voted today don't participate in the county conventions or the precinct meetings," Jones said. "And I think the majority of people understand that after five-and-a-half years and the blood and treasure that's been spent, you've got to have a strategy for victory (in Iraq)."

The key, he said, will be pushing the Iraqi people toward some sort of reconciliation.

But, he added, that's not the only issue that will be discussed.

"We've got so many issues facing this country," he said. "Both parties need to look at what's best for the American people, and that's what we're going to be talking about.

"We're looking forward to the challenge."

But while he said he probably wouldn't start his campaign in earnest until about August, Weber said he plans to start immediately.

"We're going to start right tomorrow," he said. "Already we've been on the phone with people offering help and sites for headquarters throughout the district."

By the numbers: Jones beat McLaughlin 59.52 percent to 40.48 percent across the district's 17 counties (71.48 percent to 28.52 percent in Wayne), while Weber beat Adame 69.52 percent to 30.48 percent (69.4 percent to 30.6 percent in Wayne). Neither Adame or McLaughlin were available for comment after the outcome had been decided.

Few of North Carolina's other congressional seats faced such competitive primaries, though.

Freshman Rep. Heath Shuler was one of the nine members of the 13-member delegation who didn't face a primary opponent and will cruise uncontested to the November election. A former football star at the University of Tennessee, Shuler won western North Carolina's 11th District by nearly 8 percentage points two years ago.

Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower emerged from three Republican candidates to face Shuler as the GOP tries to unseat the only freshman in the state's delegation to the U.S. House.

Four other members of North Carolina's House delegation faced primary challenges.

Incumbents GOP Reps. Sue Myrick of Charlotte and Patrick McHenry of Cherryville along with Democratic Rep. Brad Miller of Raleigh, all won. McHenry will face Democrat Daniel Johnson for the 10th district.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.