Congressman Jeff Van Drew, a moderate Democrat from New Jersey, has informed his congressional and campaign staff that he plans to switch parties and become a Republican, multiple sources told Politico on Saturday. Van Drew has been strongly opposed to impeaching Donald Trump, and it turns out impeachment is what finally pushed him over the edge. That and a meeting with President Trump.
This news comes just before House Democrats planned an impeachment vote next week, and Van Drew was not shy about his opposition to it. “It was supposed to be bipartisan, it was supposed to be incontrovertible. It was supposed to be something that was always on the rarest of circumstances,” Van Drew told reporters about impeachment earlier this week.
It is not yet clear when Van Drew will formally join the Republican Party, but rumors had been going around Capitol Hill for a week that he was strongly considering leaving the Democratic Party. Van Drew had denied those claims.
Van Drew was elected in a GOP district during the 2018 elections. According to Politico, “new polling that shows Van Drew’s approval ratings are under water with Democratic voters in his district.” Switching to the Republican Party will likely boost his chances of reelection. In his meeting with Van Drew, President Trump reportedly urged the freshman congressman to switch parties. It’s safe to say that with Trump’s support, Van Drew can expect GOP voters in his district to support him over any primary challenger.
Earlier on Saturday Donald Trump Jr. had tweeted the names, Twitter handles, and phone numbers of Democrats in Trump districts.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 14, 2019
As of this writing, Van Drew has not made a public announcement about his plan to switch parties.
This story is developing.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis