Anti-Impeachment Rep. Van Drew to Flip to GOP After Taking Six Figures From Democratic Colleagues
New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew is expected to switch parties from Democrat to Republican after taking large amounts of campaign cash from his Democratic colleagues.
(By Karl Evers-Hillstrom, Center for Responsive Politics) Anti-impeachment Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) is expected to switch parties from Democrat to Republican after meeting late last week with President Donald Trump, enraging those in his party, including many who financially backed his campaign.
Prominent donors include Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the No. 2 House Democrat, who has given $28,000 between his campaign and affiliated committee, AmeriPAC. Influential pro-impeachment members such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also helped fund Van Drew’s campaign.
New Jersey Democrats had previously thrown their weight behind Van Drew. He took in $8,000 from Purpose PAC, affiliated with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and endorsed Booker’s presidential run. Booker on Monday blasted Van Drew, urging his supporters to donate to Van Drew’s eventual Democratic challenger.
Those who did contribute to Van Drew when he was a Democrat may ask for refunds, although he is not required to honor those requests.
When Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) switched parties from Republican to Democrat in 2009, he agreed to refund donors who felt betrayed by his leaving the party. He refunded about $850,000 to 900 donors as of February 2010, and later lost a primary battle to Rep. Joe Sestak.
The conservative Club for Growth contacted Specter’s donors and urged them to ask for refunds. The Federal Election Commission ruled that the group could legally make a one-time communication with those donors about asking for a refund. Van Drew has not said whether he will entertain refunds.
Amid news of Van Drew’s expected switch, a number of his senior aides resigned, writing in a scathing letter that Republicans “continue to aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tears the country apart.”
Van Drew’s southern New Jersey district voted for Trump in 2016. And Van Drew was already unpopular with Democrats in his district, with one local party affiliate calling for him to vote for impeachment or face loss of party support. Democrats jumped on internal polling that found that 58 percent of Democratic primary voters in Van Drew’s district wanted to nominate a different candidate in 2020.
“What he’s reacting to is public polling that shows he can’t get renominated,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told ABC on Sunday.
Several Democrats had been mulling a primary challenge but have not jumped in yet. It’s not clear whether Republicans would back Van Drew in 2020. Trump tweeted in support of his decision to switch parties, but Republicans who were aiming to unseat Drew aren’t stepping aside.