Saily Avelenda helped launch a grassroots group, NJ 11th for Change, in early 2017 to pressure Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding) to oppose newly-elected President Donald Trump’s agenda and to meet with his constituents.
Her involvement with the group led to her resignation as Lakeland Bank executive after Frelinghuysen told a member of the bank’s board that Avelenda was “one of the ringleaders” of a group advocating for his defeat.
Four years later, Avelenda is building another grassroots watchdog group, Traitor Jeff Van Drew, targeting the South Jersey congressman who switched to the Republican Party in late 2019 and pledged his “undying support” to Trump.
This time, Avelenda won’t get in any trouble for going after a Republican congressman. Now she’s the executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
“Time and time again, Jeff Van Drew has chosen to stand with Donald Trump, insurrectionists and traitors over the people of South Jersey,” Avelenda said.
Avelenda slammed Van Drew for voting against the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, opposing Trump’s impeachment, and voting no on a move to strip controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) of her committee assignments after espousing conspiracy theories.
The other Republican in the New Jersey congressional delegation, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton), voted to remove Greene from her committees.
“Jeff Van Drew has put his thirst for political power over the people he swore to serve, and he must be removed from office — that work starts now, and it will end in his defeat,” Avelenda said.
The state party has launched a new Traitor Jeff Van Drew website aimed at building support to oust Van Drew in 2022.
Van Drew was a Democratic officeholder from 1991 until his 2019 party switch.
Trump and New Jersey Republicans helped Van Drew secure the GOP nomination. He won re-election to a second term in 2020 with 52% of the vote against Democrat Amy Kennedy.
Some Democrats want Kennedy to run again, but so far only Timothy Alexander, a Galloway attorney and former Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, has stepped up to run.
When Avelenda started NJ 11th for Change, Demcorats did not have a candidate to take on Frelinghuysen. Mikie Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, came forward a few months later to say that she wanted to run.