Posted on

Jeff Van Drew to switch parties, run as Republican

WASHINGTON – New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the lone Democratic congressman to come out against the impeachment of President Donald Trump, will become a Republican next week, multiple Democratic sources told USA TODAY.

The president approached Van Drew about switching parties during a meeting Friday that was first reported by the Washington Post. The source confirmed the meeting and that the freshmen lawmaker from the South Jersey district that voted for Trump in 2016 would be announcing a switch to the GOP sometime next week.

Van Drew did not respond immediately to a phone call and text message asking for comment.

In an interview last month with USA TODAY, Van Drew said he opposes impeachment because it would fracture the nation and dismissed criticism from progressives in his district that his defection was helping the GOP.

“It isn’t because I’m a tremendous defender of the president. It isn’t because I’m going to turn Republican. It isn’t because I am Republican or shilling for Republicans,” he said. “It is because I think impeachment is a very, very serious issue.”

Jefferson Van Drew in his Washington, D.C. office

In the interview explaining his opposition to an Oct. 31 resolution authorizing the impeachment inquiry, Van Drew said he was “proud to be a Democrat.”

“I’ve always been a Democrat,” he said. “But our job is to represent the American people.”

Although Van Drew had opposed impeachment, he faced a backlash from Democratic voters in his own district for the decision. And it seems possible a party switch may lift his reelection chances.