House Primaries: Republican Establishment Notches N.C. Win With Rouzer

Business-backed incumbent in Ohio also wins while in another N.C. district, hawkish groups fail to knock off GOP Rep. Walter Jones.

David Rouzer, North Carolina District 7
National Journal
Jack Fitzpatrick
May 6, 2014, 5:49 p.m.

North Car­o­lina former state Sen. Dav­id Rouzer, a Re­pub­lic­an, won his party’s nom­in­a­tion in the 7th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict Tues­day night, clear­ing the biggest hurdle between him and re­tir­ing Demo­crat­ic Rep. Mike McIntyre’s seat, while GOP Rep. Wal­ter Jones sur­vived a spir­ited primary chal­lenge in an­oth­er dis­trict.

Rouzer won 59 per­cent of the vote to Woody White’s 35 per­cent with half of pre­cincts re­port­ing at the time the As­so­ci­ated Press called the race. While the Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment cel­eb­rates vic­tory for its pre­ferred can­did­ate in the state’s U.S. Sen­ate primary, it will also cel­eb­rate a smal­ler vic­tory in this con­ser­vat­ive House seat as well as in an Ohio dis­trict where a busi­ness-backed in­cum­bent, Rep. Dav­id Joyce, also won his nom­in­a­tion.

Rouzer raised and spent more money than White, who entered the race much later, and Rouzer got a sig­ni­fic­ant boost from three es­tab­lish­ment-ori­ented groups—the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce, YG Net­work, and Amer­ic­an Ac­tion Net­work — that spent $450,000 al­to­geth­er beat­ing up on White and boost­ing Rouzer in the fi­nal days of the cam­paign.

White had shown some trac­tion in the race and was mes­saging and run­ning TV ads crit­ic­al of House Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers, sev­er­al of whom per­son­ally sup­por­ted Rouzer.

Rouzer is now highly likely to be­come a mem­ber of Con­gress. The 7th Dis­trict is Demo­crat­ic-held but con­ser­vat­ive-lean­ing, and McIntyre’s re­tire­ment at the end of the year robs his party of his unique abil­ity to draw con­ser­vat­ive votes.

Mean­while, Jones fended off a primary chal­lenge from former White House aide Taylor Griffin, win­ning the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­a­tion again in North Car­o­lina’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict. When the As­so­ci­ated Press called the race with 71 per­cent of pre­cincts in, Jones had 53 per­cent of the vote to Griffin’s 44 per­cent.

Jones was seen as a prime tar­get for a primary chal­lenge. He clashed with party lead­er­ship and was re­moved from the House Fin­an­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee in 2012, and Griffin ar­gued that those clashes made Jones less able to look out for his dis­trict. Jones evol­u­tion in­to a ma­jor Ir­aq War crit­ic com­plic­ated his re­la­tion­ship with the hawk­ish side of his party. In 2013, Jones said former Vice Pres­id­ent Dick Cheney would “rot in hell” be­cause of the war.

Griffin, mean­while, fol­lowed a dif­fer­ent path than most primary chal­lengers, run­ning as an es­tab­lish­ment Re­pub­lic­an who would play nice with oth­ers in or­der to de­liv­er for his dis­trict. He touted his cre­den­tials as a Treas­ury De­part­ment of­fi­cial dur­ing the George W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, and de­fen­ded Bush’s re­cord on de­fense.

Jones en­dured a bar­rage of out­side spend­ing. Al­though Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity came to his aid with ra­dio ads thank­ing him for op­pos­ing Obama­care, the Emer­gency Com­mit­tee for Is­rael and End­ing Spend­ing Ac­tion Fund, a su­per PAC cre­ated and fin­an­cially backed by TD Amer­it­rade founder Joe Rick­etts, com­bined to spend more than $1 mil­lion to sup­port Griffin.

In Ohio, Joyce fended off tea party-backed state Rep. Matt Lynch in the 14th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, car­ry­ing the GOP primary with 55 per­cent of the vote to 45 per­cent for Lynch when the As­so­ci­ated Press called the race with 80 per­cent of pre­cincts re­port­ing. Joyce, who was first elec­ted in 2012, will face Demo­crat Mi­chael Wager in the gen­er­al elec­tion.

Lynch ran to Joyce’s right, cri­ti­ciz­ing him for not be­ing con­ser­vat­ive enough. But the Cham­ber of Com­merce, the Amer­ic­an Hos­pit­al As­so­ci­ation, and De­fend­ing Main Street — the su­per PAC run by the dis­trict’s former rep­res­ent­at­ive, Steven La­Tour­ette — spent hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars on ads back­ing Joyce.

On the Demo­crat­ic side of the aisle, state Rep. Alma Adams won a sev­en-way primary out­right in North Car­o­lina’s 12th Dis­trict, a safe Demo­crat­ic seat. EMILY’s List, the Demo­crat­ic wo­men’s group, dir­ec­ted money to the dis­trict on Adams’s be­half in the race to re­place former Rep. Mel Watt, who is now in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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