For five days that Jeff Van Drew was flirting with becoming a Republican, but to see it actually happen was a little jaw-dropping.
Van Drew has always been a conservative Democrat. But Thursday he fully embraced President Donald Trump and the Republican agenda.
“This is the greatest country on the face of the Earth. I started out as not a wealthy kid, had the opportunity to work hard, get into dental school, graduated, and my God, I’m sitting next to the president of the United States. That’s unbelievable. That’s America. So I don’t want anyone to ever tell me that there isn’t American exceptionalism. I don’t want anybody to ever say this is the same as every other country in the world because it is not,” Van Drew said. “I believe that this is just a better fit for me. This is who I am. It’s who I always was, but there was more tolerance of moderate Democrats, of blue dog Democrats, of conservative Democrats, and I think that’s going away.”
He continued, speaking to Trump, “I want to say: One, you have my undying support, always.”
Van Drew was one of only two Democrats to vote against the impeachment inquiry last month. He said Thursday that Democratic leaders in his South Jersey district told him he couldn’t do that and still run for re-election as a Democrat.
A poll showed him winning just 24% in a Democratic primary if he stayed solid against impeachment.
According to the Washington Post, national Republicans started courting Van Drew six weeks ago, and last Friday Trump invited him over to the residence at the White House and made the pitch, and apparently made the sale.
Van Drew becomes just the 10th member of Congress in the last two decades to switch parties.
He’ll run in the Republican primary next June, and Trump pledged to come into New Jersey for him as early as January.
Democrats Brigid Harrison and Amy Kennedy are eyeing the seat.