Rep. Jeff Van Drew revealed Sunday that it was a local Democrat’s assertion that he either vote for impeachment or risk his political future that was the “final sign” he should defect to the Republican Party.
Mr. Van Drew, who recently switched parties after refusing to vote with Democrats to impeach President Trump, told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo that he had been contemplating leaving the party for some time because of its dramatic shift to the left but ultimately decided to become a Republican after a New Jersey Democratic county party chair personally pressured him to vote for impeachment.
“The final sign for me was, oddly enough, actually in my home county,” the congressman said, “when one of the county chairmen — and I have eight counties — one of the county chairmen came to me and said, ‘I have to speak with you.’ And I said, ‘Sure,’ and sat down. He said, ‘I just want to let you know that you have to vote for impeachment.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘You’ve got to vote for impeachment. If you don’t you’re not going to be able to run in my county’ — Well, first of all, it’s not his county, it’s our county — ‘And you’re not going to be able to move forward. You’re not going to get the line,’ which is a big deal in New Jersey. ‘And you’re not going to be successful.'”
Mr. Van Drew said he couldn’t believe that all his work in public service could be boiled down to one vote.
“That’s when I knew,” he said. “I had been thinking about it for a while and I said, and you know, I was speaking to my chief of staff about this and I said to her, ‘You know, there’s always been in my career and over time, something that happens that lets you know that it is time to make a change.’ And this was it.”
Mr. Van Drew, who was elected as a Democrat to represent New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, won a reelection endorsement from Mr. Trump last week after meeting with the president at the White House and announcing his plan to switch parties.
On Sunday, the congressman said he had no regrets for the decision.
“How I feel today is, I feel good,” Mr. Van Drew said. “I feel that I did the honorable thing. I feel that I did what was right for me and right for the country.”
“This impeachment is a weak, thin impeachment that doesn’t really mean anything much to most of the American people and it has been a long, dark shadow on our country,” he said. “Folks are tired of the hours and hours and hours of time that has been spent on it. They’re tired of the millions of dollars that have been spent on it and they want to move forward.”
Mr. Van Drew didn’t name the local leader who pressured him, but The Press of Atlantic City reported the congressman was referring to Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman, who responded that he was honored to have supposedly pushed Mr. Van Drew out of the party.
“If he has so much vitriol against me he felt the need to mention me in the White House, then good for me,” Mr. Suleiman told the outlet. “If I’m the reason Jeff Van Drew got pushed out of the Democratic Party, I’ll wear it as a badge of honor.”
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