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Does Jeff Van Drew really know what he’s doing?
As news reverberated Saturday about Van Drew’s planned jump to the Republican Party, it was impossible to ignore certain facts. For the last month or so, his impeachment views notwithstanding, Van Drew has publicly said that he considers himself a Democrat and that he is not a fan of Donald Trump.
Now, you have to bluntly ask, was he lying at the time?
Ok. People change their minds. That’s a more benign view. Still, just this weekend as Van Drew was ready to jump ship, his campaign was soliciting funds for his reelection – as a Democrat. Crazy, no?
So, was this a spur of the moment decision prompted by a meeting with Trump, who Van Drew previously has said he does not support?
Broadly speaking, it is not unheard of for politicians to change parties in mid-stream.
But consider for a moment a veteran lawmaker who has been elected to, say, Congress for 15 years. That’s long enough to build up good will with voters independent of your political affiliation. Also consider a U.S senator who changes parties in year two of his, or her, term. That still leaves four years to acclimate yourself with your new party – and its voters – before reelection rolls around.
Neither of those scenarios fit Van Drew, who has been in office less than a year. Now, after just getting elected, relatively speaking, as a Democrat, he will seek Republican support in next June’s GOP primary. That’s less than six months away.
Two of the Republicans already eyeing that seat in CD-2 lashed out at Van Drew on Saturday, noting that his voting record has been squarely aligned with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The speaker, you see, is a villain to many conservatives.
This is rhetoric to be sure, but the overall point remains. Despite differing with the Democrats on impeachment – a mega-issue to be sure – Van Drew has indeed voted the Democratic line since arriving in Washington. This raises a question about his political integrity. Is Van Drew suddenly going to adopt party-line Republican positions that he may not have had a week ago?
State Sen. Joe Penancchio from Morris County praised Van Drew’s move. That’s to be expected, given the fact Pennacchio co-chairs the Trump campaign in New Jersey. It’s also relevant that his home base is about as far away from CD-2 as you can get and still be in New Jersey.
The immediate reaction from Democrats has been to condemn Van Drew and to express confidence they will beat him in November. The district may skew conservative, but there are more registered Democrats than Republicans.
While some local Republicans are not enamored of Van Drew’s switch, Trump can certainly help his new friend in many ways.
Perhaps the president will campaign for Van Drew by returning to Atlantic City – scene of his former casino holdings, and of course, a number of bankruptcies. Then again, maybe not.