WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Taylor Griffin came close to pulling off a political upset in 2014. As a first-time candidate, the former presidential aide came within six percentage points (51-45) of defeating ten-term Rep. Walter B. Jones in the Third Congressional District Republican Primary. Now, two years later, Griffin says he is using what he learned in that race to run what he hopes is a successful campaign in 2016.
Griffin has experience in Washington, serving as an aide to President George W. Bush, and later working in the U.S. Treasury Department. Griffin also worked for a time in the office of former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, and he credits that experience with teaching him to stand on his conservative principles. Griffin is quick to point out, however, that Jones has much more experience in politics, serving eleven terms in Congress after a decade as a member of North Carolina's General Assembly.
Griffin believes there are stark differences between himself and Jones in the area of national security. He criticizes Jones for previous votes which Griffin believes were not supporting the large military presence in the Third District. "First of all, he (Jones) has consistently, because he objects to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan which is his point of view, he consistently votes against funding for our military, which is vital to eastern North Carolina," said Griffin. "I can understand why he might object to our presence in Afghanistan. But that's no reason not to fund the military. I think you need to be an active part of solving the things you object to, but making sure you are supporting eastern North Carolina. I think his support of Obama's negotiations with Iran over the nuclear deal, he and I disagree on. I also think he was very dismissive of the threat of ISIS and an aggressive response to ISIS. I think what we saw in Paris, and what I hope we don't see but we may in the future is that not confronting ISIS earlier was a mistake.
When Griffin announced his candidacy for the Third Congressional Race in 2015, he said in a statement "Walter Jones is a good man, he's just not a good conservative". Griffin mentioned Jones voting with "liberal Nancy Pelosi more than any other North Carolina Republican", and refusing to support the Republican Party's nominee for President in each of the last three elections. But, American Conservative wrote about Jones in 2014 that "he has been one of the most conservative members of Congress. He has scored a perfect 100 percent rating from the American Conservative union four times, missing it twice more by just one vote". Griffin says that shows he is already having a positive impact for the people of the Third District just by entering the race.
"I will readily admit that since I've been in this race his conservative voting record has improved," Griffin said. "I will also say that his ratings with American Conservative Union were the lowest among the North Carolina congressional delegation and among the lowest in the country for many years. This is why primaries are healthy. This is why having real elections are healthy. I ran for this office because I don't think the voters are being represented properly, and the voters agreed with that, twenty thousand of them did in the last primary. I think he's responding to that, and that's good. But I think we need someone who will be a consistent conservative and an effective conservative for eastern North Carolina going forward."
Griffin supports tax reform which he says will "do more to jumpstart the economy than any government stimulus package". He also favors full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, replacing it with a "free-market oriented, consumer-oriented healthcare system". "We need to make the healthcare system work on the individual level," Griffin said. "We need to get consumers involved in making choices. If we do that we start putting pressures on the fundamental problems which are price, quality and availability. If consumer are making choices about healthcare, they are going to demand the kind of healthcare that provides the quality they want at the price they want, and the industry is going to have to respond to that. That's the way free markets work. Obamacare papered over the problem and made a lot of problems worse."