Gloucester County Republican Chairwoman Jacci Vigilante and a host of the county’s Republican officials endorsed Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) Friday.
“Congressman Van Drew has worked hard to earn the support of Republican leaders all over South Jersey, including right here in Gloucester County,” Vigilante said. “The more we have gotten to know Congressman Van Drew, the more impressed we are with his command of the issues facing South Jersey and commitment to growing our Republican party. We will be joining Congressman Van Drew in Wildwood next week to show our support for his re-election and welcome President Trump to South Jersey.”
Van Drew defected to the Republican party last month after losing support from the second congressional district’s rank and file Democrats over his opposition to impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
Since then, an ever-growing number of the district’s Republican leaders have backed Van Drew, in some cases even pulling support for GOP candidates that entered the race while Van Drew was a Democrat.
One of those Republican rivals, Brian Fitzherbert, dropped his House bid and endorsed Van Drew earlier Friday.
David Richter, once the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the second, remains in the race but may choose to run a race in the third congressional district.
Former Freeholder Kate Gibbs has the line in Burlington County and would pose a significant obstacle for Richter, though Ocean County Republican Chairman Frank Holman III has yet to back a candidate.
Van Drew’s third challenger, former Trump aide Robert Patterson, has not signaled any intention to drop his bid.
The White House, thankful for the optics of a Democratic congressman leaving his party over a belief that it had lost itself on impeachment, is responsible for much of the local support Van Drew has received.
Trump will hold a rally for the incumbent in Wildwood next week.
“I support and trust President Trump’s decision to endorse Congressman Van Drew,” Elk Township Mayor Carolyn King-Sammons, who is vice chair of the Gloucester County GOP, said. “South Jersey needs an advocate in Washington who will stand up for our conservative values, listen to the needs of their constituents and vote in the best interest for all in our district and I know Congressman Van Drew will continue to do just that.”
Van Drew also received endorsements from county Republican Secretary Lisa Rotte, Treasurer Steve Bottiglieri, Young Republican President Andrea Sammons, East Greenwich Mayor Dale Archer, Franklin Mayor Jake Bruno, Greenwich Mayor George Shivery, Newfield Mayor Don Sullivan, Pitman Mayor Mike Razze and South Harrison Mayor Joe Marino.
For those keeping count, that’s every one of the Republican Gloucester mayors whose towns fall within the second district.
“The voters in our community of Franklin Township have a long history of voting for who they feel is the best candidate and not for a particular party,” Bruno said. “They are interested in integrity, competence, service to constituents and performance and, because of that, endorsing Congressman Jeff Van Drew is an easy choice.”