Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, a Democratic lawmaker who has been strongly opposed to impeaching President Donald Trump, is expected to switch parties and become a Republican in the near future. Although Van Drew was already in the process of deciding on the switch it seems like a Friday meeting with President Donald Trump helped to seal the deal. His congressional and campaign staff have been informed that Van Drew is planning to make the switch and “the question was now when, not if” he would join the Republican Party, reports Politico.
Van Drew’s could make the announcement as soon as next week although it remains unclear whether it would be before or after the House votes on articles of impeachment, which is expected on Wednesday. The New Jersey lawmaker has been eager to get Trump’s blessing for the move in an effort to prevent a primary challenge next year. If Van Drew were to stay a Democrat, polling suggests he would have a hard time getting reelected. The move would also provide clear benefits for the president as a party defection would allow Trump to argue impeachment is so controversial that Democrats are leaving their party in protest.
Although extreme, Van Drew’s situation exemplifies the difficult situation that some Democratic lawmakers from conservative districts are facing these days as the impeachment vote nears. The White House and Republicans as a whole are directly targeting these Democrats in an effort to get as many as possible to vote against impeachment. President Donald Trump quoted pundit Jason Meister in a tweet Saturday morning, pointing out that “there are 31 House Democrats in Trump won Congressional Districts.” Donald Trump Jr. took it further and tweeted the office phone numbers and Twitter handles of the 31 Democrats. President Trump retweeted his son’s message. Democratic leaders say they expect “at most six to 10 defectors,” reports the Washington Post.
Van Drew, who won a previously Republican seat in 2018, has been highly critical of the impeachment process, saying it has become too partisan. “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.” He also claimed several of his Democratic colleagues have reached out to him to try to figure out what to do and he said as many as three or four could join him in voting against impeachment. “There are numbers of my colleagues who are thinking about it, what they want to do, and are not sure,” he said.
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