NC's 3rd congressional district representative Walter Jones dies at 76

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina's 3rd congressional district representative Walter Jones passed away on his 76th birthday after entering hospice at the end of January.

A statement from Jones' office said he passed away Sunday afternoon in Greenville.

"Congressman Jones was a man of the people. With a kind heart and the courage of his convictions, he dedicated his life to serving his Savior and to standing up for Americans who needed a voice. He was a champion for our men and women in uniform and their families, always mindful of their service and sacrifice," a statement from Jones' office said.

Representative Mark Meadows sent his condolences in a tweet Sunday afternoon.

Jones, a Republican, served in office since 1995. He was the son of Walter B. Jones, Sr., a Democrat who served in Congress representing North Carolina's 1st District from 1966-1992.

Jones ran for his father's seat as a Democrat after he announced his retirement in 1992; he was defeated and switched parties prior to the 1994 election.

Jones served on the Committee on Armed Services and was a member of various caucuses.

This now leaves two North Carolina congressional districts without a congressman. Along with voters in the 9th district, about 1.4 million North Carolina residents are without House representation in Washington D.C.

State law requires a special election to fill a vacant congressional seat, so voters should expect a primary process and then special election.

The governor does not appoint a successor, but statute may require the governor to set the date of the special election.

The NC09 evidentiary hearing is set for Feb. 18, so it's possible North Carolina can have two separate special elections under very different circumstances. One, to fill the seat of Congressman Jones who has died, and the other to fill a vacancy mired in controversy.

There are tangible consequences to not having a congressman.

Sen. Tillis' office says staffers are working 100 cases for NC09 voter issues like help with Medicare and VA benefits. The office has also responded to some 6,000 emails. Now add another district without a congressman and that could mean longer waits for resolutions or answers from Senator Tillis or Burr's staff.

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