Representative Jeff Van Drew, a freshman representative serving in south New Jersey’s 2nd congressional district, is currently in talks with Trump officials about switching parties.
Van Drew, a Democrat who has been ardently opposed to impeachment, is expected to join the Republican Party in the coming days.
Among House Democrats opposed to impeachment, Van Drew is joined by Rep. Collin Peterson. Peterson’s Minnesota district is far more conservative than Van Drew, and the two were the only Democrats to vote against the impeachment inquiry resolution in October.
New Jersey’s 2nd congressional district was previously a Republican stronghold since 1995 until Rep. Frank Lobiondo retired in 2018 and Van Drew defeated the Republican challenger by 8 points. Now, Van Drew is losing favor with Democrats in the district.
For his part, Van Drew previously denied the claims that he intends to switch parties. “I’m not changing anything — just doing my job,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m still a Democrat, right here.” That denial might be old news according to more recent sources.
The rumor mill seems to indicate things have drastically changed since then. POLITICO’s John Bresnahan took to Twitter today claiming to have heard from Democrat sources that Trump is planning to do a Rose Garden event with Van Drew next week. His colleague, Heather Caygle, recently reported that Van Drew has informed his staffers about the upcoming switch:
Van Drew’s congressional, campaign staff and other members of the New Jersey delegation were informed he was planning to switch parties on Saturday, according to Democratic sources. The question now was when, not if, Van Drew was joining the Republican Party, according to several Democrats with knowledge of the ongoing conversations.
As of Saturday afternoon, it was still unclear if Van Drew would make the announcement before the House votes on impeachment, which is expected Wednesday.
“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. “Well it’s not bipartisan.”
Republicans were excitedly touting the news on Saturday, describing it as a huge blow to Democrats’ effort to impeach the president, which Trump and other GOP leaders have repeatedly decried as a “partisan witch hunt.” The move is also certain to score major points with Trump, whose support could be crucial in a crowded GOP primary. Trump and Van Drew are expected to hold an event together next week, according to sources on Capitol Hill.
Yesterday, we published a list of Democrats that are currently pushing for impeachment and currently representing districts Trump won in 2016. We highly encourage our readers to contact the office numbers provided to let them know how their feelings on the situation before the vote on the House floor this Wednesday.