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Staff exodus in Van Drew office after party switch

The chief of staff — Allison Murphy, who worked with him in the state Senate — is not expected to leave. But there could be additional staffers who decide to leave this week.

Some in his office, including Murphy, had sought to persuade some staff to stay, according to a person familiar with the conversations.

The staff includes legislative director Javier Gamboa, deputy chief Edward Kaczmarski, deputy chief Justin O’Leary, communications director Mackenzie Lucas and legislative staff assistant Caroline Wood.

Van Drew, who was his party’s most vocal opponent of impeaching Trump, made the decision to leave the Democrats after a personal meeting with Trump on Friday. The congressman had begun informing some of his staff later that day, but didn’t want it to be public until the following week. But by Saturday, the news had leaked.

There had been rumors for several days that the New Jersey freshman could switch parties after Democratic leaders announced they were moving ahead with articles of impeachment, but Van Drew repeatedly denied the claims publicly.

Multiple senior Democrats tried to reach out to the New Jersey freshman on Saturday but were unsuccessful.

Van Drew flipped his GOP district in southern New Jersey, helping deliver Democrats the House majority. The district, which still leans Republican, voted for Trump in 2016.

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