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Rep. Frank Pallone. (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

Pallone backs Van Drew

Congressman warns purity tests could cost House Democrats their majority

By Nikita Biryukov, December 13 2019 3:26 pm

Rep. Frank Pallone is sticking by a House colleague facing fire for his opposition to impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

“Absolutely. I love Jeff Van Drew. He’s great,” Pallone said when asked if he would back the first-term Democrat for a second term. “Look, the Democrats are a big tent, and we can’t start getting involved in supporting people or not because of their ideology. He votes the way he thinks reflects his opinions and his district, and I respect that.”

Van Drew was one of two Democrats to vote against a resolution establishing procedures for the public portion of the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

On Wednesday, he told USA Today he would oppose two articles of impeachment against the president that could come before a full House vote as early as next week.

The congressman’s obstinacy on the issue has caused dissatisfaction among Democrats in his district to the point that Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman told Van Drew he could not guarantee him a primary win if he didn’t change his stance on the issue.

Two of New Jersey’s top Democrats, Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney, declined to endorse Van Drew this week, though they signaled that they could endorse him in the future.

Both cited the congressman’s stance on impeachment.

To Pallone, a high-ranking House Democrat, that sort of thinking is short sighted.

“I think in order to keep our majority and attract people to be Democrats who have different opinions, we have to have a big tent, and that tent is going to include people on the left and people on the right, and it shouldn’t be based on whether we agree on their ideology,” he said. “It can’t be. If it is, we’re going to be very narrowly focused, and we’re not going to keep our majority. We’re not going to attract people.”

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