A second Republican is seeking his party’s nomination to challenge Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in 2020.
Rob Jones, a Marine veteran and double amputee, announced his campaign for the 10th Congressional District on Monday, the nine-year anniversary of the day a bomb exploded beneath him in Afghanistan.
Wexton, a former state senator and prosecutor from Loudoun County, defeated Republican Barbara Comstock by 12 points in 2018, turning the district blue for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Voters won’t choose a GOP nominee until spring 2020, but Jones already has support from the National Republican Congressional Committee. Jones said he was making calls on Monday from committee headquarters in Washington and said the group has helped him with media training and other preparation.
Committee spokeswoman Camille Gallo said the group speaks with potential candidates but does not endorse in primaries. Jeff Dove, an Army veteran who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) in a neighboring district last year, is also challenging Wexton.
Jones grew up in Lovettsville, in the 10th District, graduated from Loudoun Valley High School and joined the Marine Reserve during his junior year at Virginia Tech. On deployment in 2010, he was injured while clearing IEDs, resulting in the amputation of his legs.
He met Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), also a double amputee, while they were recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Mast’s team is helping run Jones’s campaign.
While relearning how to walk, run, bike and row, Jones competed in the Paralympic Games, biked across the country, ran daily marathons for a month, and raised money for veterans’ charities. He and his wife, Pam, moved to Middleburg in April.
In his announcement video, Jones blames extremists and party bosses for dysfunction in Washington, amid images of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) but also of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)
“Right now in Congress, they have tendency to demonize and dehumanize anyone who doesn’t agree with them,” he said.
Rather than vote for Donald Trump, who lost in the 10th District by double digits in 2016, Jones said he wrote in the name of retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis.
However, he said, he will vote for Trump in 2020 because the president stands for the free market, smaller government and lower taxes, while Democrats “want to give free health care to illegal immigrants while there are still veterans sleeping in the streets.”
Jones declined to say how he thought Trump’s presidency was going.
“I’m just really focused on the 10th District of Virginia,” he said.