Anti-impeachment House Democrat to switch party affiliation

Report: Democratic congressman who criticized his party over impeachment preparing to leave Democrats, become a Republican.

Tags: Impeachment
David Rosenberg ,

Trump impeachment inquiry, lead by House Judiciary Committee chief Jerry Nadler
Trump impeachment inquiry, lead by House Judiciary Committee chief Jerry Nadler

A centrist Democrat critical of his party’s push to impeach President Donald Trump is preparing to switch his party affiliation and join the GOP, according to a report by The Hill.

Citing “Democratic sources”, the report claimed that New Jersey Congressman Jefferson Van Drew, a first-term House Democrat, is planning on leaving the Democratic caucus this week.

According to the report, Van Drew has already informed his staff and some fellow New Jersey lawmakers of his plans to join the Republican caucus, two senior Democratic aides said.

Last week, Van Drew met with President Trump at the White House.

Van Drew represents New Jersey’s 2nd congressional district, a traditionally Republican-leaning district which was represented by the GOP since 1995. The seat was left open by incumbent Frank LoBiondo’s retirement, and Van Drew won by six points in a wave election for House Democrats.

The south New Jersey district is still considered a slightly Republican-leaning district, with a partisan voter index of +1 GOP.

Van Drew has long criticized his party’s handling of the Trump impeachment inquiry, and has distanced himself from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, voting ‘present’ during her election as speaker in January.

A member of the centrist Blue Dog Democrat caucus, Van Drew is one of just two House Democrats who voted against the impeachment inquiry process in October.

Van Drew argued that Trump’s conversations with the Ukrainian president regarding a possible investigation into a nixed inquiry of Hunter Biden’s service on a Ukrainian company’s board of directors did not amount to an impeachable offense, and argued that Trump’s removal from office would constitute “disenfranchising voters”.

"An article of impeachment is a very specific, very serious action, literally akin to declaring war, because you're disenfranchising voters," Van Drew said last week.

If Van Drew does switch his affiliation it will leave the Democrats with 231 seats in the House, above the 218 needed for a majority, while pushing the Republican caucus back up to 199 seats.

The GOP won 199 seats in the 2018 midterm elections, but lost one seat, held by Michigan’s Justin Amash, when Amash bolted the party to become an independent.