Congress

Ailing NC congressman breaks hip, will miss even more time in new Congress

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., speaks during a news conference Dec. 6, 2017, in Washington.
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., speaks during a news conference Dec. 6, 2017, in Washington. AP

Rep. Walter Jones, who has not been able to vote in Congress since September due to an undisclosed illness, suffered a broken hip after a fall at his home in Farmville on Monday.

Jones, who turns 76 in February, underwent successful surgery at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville on Tuesday, according to his congressional office.

“The congressman has started the rehabilitation process and is grateful to all involved for the care he’s received,” his office said in a statement.

Jones, a Republican, was elected for a 13th term in Congress in November. He ran unopposed in the general election after defeating two Republican challengers in the primary. Jones represents much of Eastern North Carolina, including the northern half of the state’s coast. He announced during the campaign that it would be his final term in Congress.

The House granted Jones a leave of absence in December and he expected to return to Congress in January. But he has been unable to attend. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, administered the oath of office to Jones at his home in Farmville on Jan. 4, one day after the new Congress was sworn in in Washington. Butterfield said he has known Jones for more than 40 years and considers him a good friend.

He’s got some health challenges, but it appears he’s on the road to recovery,” Butterfield said in an interview with The News & Observer last week before Jones broke his hip.

Jones’ office has not disclosed the nature of his illness.

North Carolina’s 3rd district was one of two not represented during the first day of Congress, when members cast votes for House Speaker. North Carolina’s 9th district was also not represented because the results in that race have not been certified by the state board of elections.

Phil Law, who ran against Jones for the Republican nomination in 2016 and 2018, announced this week that he will seek the Republican nomination in 2020. The Onslow County businessman and Marine veteran said he would make combating illegal immigration one of his top issues and cast himself as a supporter and defender of President Donald Trump.

“President Trump is fighting for us every day and needs our support which I will stress each day on the campaign trail,” Law said in a statement. “We cannot allow radical Democratic officials to nullify the vote of the people through phony impeachment charges. If this is to become president Trump’s Alamo then I stand with him to the very end — win or lose.”

Jones received 43 percent of the vote in the 2018 GOP primary with Law receiving 29.4 percent of the vote and third-place finisher Scott Dacey earning 27.5 percent.

Jones’ father, Walter Jones Sr., represented an Eastern North Carolina district as a Democrat in Congress from 1966 until his death in 1992. Jones Jr. lost his bid for the Democratic nomination to replace his father in 1992, but won election as a Republican in 1994 in a new district that included much of his father’s old district and has held the seat since.

The 116th Congress welcomed more than 100 women, a first in US history.

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