New Jersey Democratic Congressman Jeff Van Drew was one of the most outspoken critics of the move to impeach President Donald Trump, saying openly that he would not vote with his party. Now, one day after a private meeting with Trump in the White House, Van Drew is reportedly switching parties.
CNN reported on Saturday that the freshman lawmaker has been telling colleagues of his intentions to join the Republican Party “in the coming days.” The announcement could come ahead of the full House vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump that passed the House Judiciary Committee this week, the report noted.
Van Drew was one of two Democrats to vote against formalizing the impeachment inquiry in October, saying that the impeachment process would tear the country apart and noting that there was no chance of the U.S. Senate voting to remove Trump from office.
The stance led to questions of whether he might be considering switching parties, but Van Drew at the time told USA Today that he had no intention of joining the GOP.
“I’m proud to be a Democrat,” he said. “I’ve never been anything but… I’ve always been a Democrat. But our job is to represent the American people.”
There now appear to be some major consequences with voters for bucking his party. The CNN report added that internal polling showed Van Drew losing support from Democrats in his district after the controversial stance. USA Today added that polls showed Van Drew would be unlikely to survive a Democratic primary he would likely face next year.
Some political experts said the switch to the Republican Party is an attempt to gain re-election in 2020.
“The Van Drew story seems pretty simple to me: the guy got a poll back saying that voters in his swing district would punish him for voting against impeachment, so he decided to switch parties to keep his job,” noted former Obama speechwriter turned political podcast host Jon Favreau on Twitter.
Van Drew first won the election in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District in 2018 after Republican opponent Seth Grossman made a controversial remark that diversity leads to Muslims killing Christians, leading to the National Republican Congressional Committee pulling its support. The district went for Trump in 2016 but was won by Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012.