Facing opposition from Democrats in his district, a freshman congressman is considering a switch to the Republican Party, several outlets reported Saturday.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) was one of two Democrats to vote against the formal impeachment inquiry launched in October, and last week he announced his intention to vote against impeachment itself.
According to several reports, Van Drew’s reelection campaign has seen support for him slipping among Democrats in his district. The Washington Post first reported Saturday that Van Drew had met with Donald Trump at the White House on Friday.
A Van Drew campaign poll conducted Dec. 7-10 showed that just 24% of likely Democratic voters supported the congressman’s reelection, and that 58% wanted another Democrat nominated for the seat, the Post reported.
Politico and The New York Times reported the same Van Drew campaign poll, which also reportedly showed that 71% of Democratic primary voters would be less likely to support Van Drew if he voted against impeachment.
Van Drew won his seat in New Jersey’s middle-of-the-road 2nd District in 2018 after 12-term congressman Frank Lobiondo, a Republican, announced his retirement. Barack Obama won the district twice, in 2008 and 2012, before Donald Trump picked it up in 2016.
In a recent letter to Van Drew, Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman warned against not supporting the impeachment.
“A ‘no’ vote on impeachment will suppress Democratic turnout down-ballot, which my organization cannot sustain,” Suleiman wrote. “We cannot afford to have Democrats sit on their hands in a presidential year when we usually perform well.”
Responding to the news of Van Drew’s planned switch, Suleiman told Politico that the congressman was a “coward” who “took the easy way out.”
The congressman has spoken with Trump advisers about a White House event to announce the news either before or after this coming week’s impeachment vote, the Times reported citing unnamed sources. Politico similarly reported that Trump and Van Drew are expected to hold an event this week, according to unnamed sources.
In recent weeks, Van Drew has denied that he is switching parties. A spokesperson for his office did not return requests for comment Saturday.
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