Taylor Griffin would deny his Republican primary challenge to 10-term incumbent Rep. Walter Jones is a stalking horse. Yet that’s exactly what the race for North Carolina’s 3rd congressional district is for many shrewd political strategists.
Jones is Southern, conservative, independent and, since a road-to-Baghdad experience, belligerently anti-war — not unlike a certain likely presidential candidate. Jones recently said that LBJ, roasting in hell for getting America into Vietnam, would have to make way for Dick Cheney.
The leadership of the Republican Party can’t stand Jones. Yet he has easily fended off Republican primary challenges in the past thanks to his bond with the sort of voters who might just be the deciding vote in the 2016 Republican primaries.
Recent redistricting, however, took away some of those voters. This created an opening that Griffin has seized, though we don’t know how effective he has been so far because of the lack of any good polling. We’ll find out tonight when the real polls close.
Griffin, a Bush administration and Treasury department hand turned K Street lobbyist, has wooed Tea Party supporters. He used a late endorsement from Sarah Palin for all it’s worth. And of course he has called Jones a liberal repeatedly, citing a handful of votes conservative movementarians don’t like and his foreign policy apostasy.
If Griffin fails miserably, the more hawkish faction of the Republican Party will be forced back to the drawing board. But if Griffin can even force Jones into a runoff today, any consultant worth his salt will have a useful blueprint for how to attack Rand Paul in the South.