US Democrat Lawmaker Defects To Republican Party After Trump’s Impeachment

Jeff Van Drew, a United States lawmaker representing New Jersey, is leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican, President Donald Trump announced Thursday.
Trump introduced Van Drew in an Oval Office meeting that also included Vice President Mike Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
“Jeff will be joining the Republican Party,” Trump said. “It’s a very exciting announcement.”
Van Drew said he has always been a moderate, and blasted unnamed Democrats for moving the party too far left.
“I believe that this is just a better fit for me,” he said. “This is who I am.”
Van Drew rattled off a string of issues he said pushed the party away from him, criticizing the Green New Deal proposal and accusing some Democrats of downplaying America’s exceptionalism.
He praised Trump’s record on the economy and pledged loyalty to his new party.
“You have my undying support, always,” Van Drew said. Trump responded, saying: “I’m endorsing him.”
The announcement ended days of political uncertainty for Van Drew, after the revelation last Saturday that he planned to switch parties.
He joins a rare group of defectors in recent years. Former Alabama representative Parker Griffith, a longtime Democrat, became a Republican in 2009, only to lose in a GOP primary next year.
That same election cycle, Pennsylvania Republican Senator, Arlen Specter, bolted to the Democrats before losing the 2010 primary to Joe Sestak.
Pence added Thursday that “another public official from New Jersey” will be following the South Jerseycongressman’s lead. He did not give any details.
Van Drew’s vocal opposition to impeachment enraged Democratic leaders and activists, and prompted plans for him to switch parties.
He voted against both articles of impeachment late Wednesday, disagreeing with the vast majority of his Democratic colleagues, who maintained that Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress.
During the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Van Drew sat with Republicans on the House floor, shaking hands with GOP lawmakers and congratulating their leaders after their strident defence of Trump.
On Dec. 11, Van Drew learned from an internal poll just how much his stance on impeachment imperilled his chances to win a Democratic primary.
He proceeded to cut off contact with key allies, and two days later was at the White House to discuss plans to become a Republican.
Van Drew hopes his defection to the Republican Party would ease his path to reelection in a conservative-leaning district. But local Republicans have hardly been welcoming, questioning Van Drew’s mostly liberal voting record and relationship with the state’s Democratic Party machine as troubling.
“He will have to prove he is with us on more than just the issue of impeachment,” Jacci Vigilante, chair of the Gloucester County GOP, said recently.

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