More than a half dozen staffers have submitted their resignations to Democratic congressman Jeff Van Drew, who is expected to switch parties by the end of the week. The New York Times reports that there is now just one person left in the lawmaker’s office — his chief of staff.
The freshman legislator is one of two Democrats who voted against the authorization of an official impeachment in October. Last Friday, Van Drew met with Trump in the White House, where the president urged him to join the GOP. A day later, the Washington Post reported that the centrist Blue Dog Democrat would make the switch.
Early last week, prior to the meeting with Trump, Van Drew explained to reporters that he couldn’t support impeachment because it was too partisan. “It was supposed to be bipartisan, it was supposed to be incontrovertible,” he said. “It was supposed to be something that was always on the rarest of circumstances. Well it’s not bipartisan.”
Van Drew’s staff was reportedly told of the impending party switch Saturday and the resignations quickly followed. In a joint letter to Van Drew’s chief of staff Sunday, five senior aides said the congressman’s party switch “does not align with the values we brought to this job,” according to Politico.
“Sadly, Congressman Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of the Republican party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office,” according to the letter, which was obtained by POLITICO. It also states that “Trump Republicans” have worked to “aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tear the country apart.”
They also said they are “deeply saddened and disappointed.”
A former New Jersey state senator, Van Drew is serving his first term in Congress. In 2018, he flipped a seat previously held by Republican Frank A. LoBiondo, who retired. Trump won the district in 2016.
His decision to join the GOP comes after an internal campaign poll showed that 71 percent of Democratic primary voters would oppose him if he voted against impeachment. Switching parties might be Van Drew’s only hope of keeping his job, but even that is no guarantee. There are already three Republicans who have filed to run for Congress in the district next year, including one who says he is willing to put $1 million of his own money into his campaign to defeat Van Drew.