Former Trump administration official Robert Patterson will bypass county GOP conventions and screening committees and take his campaign for the GOP congressional nomination against Democrat-turned-Republican Jeff Van Drew directly to primary voters.
He says the endorsements of Van Drew by several county chairs “all but guarantee rubber-stamped endorsements at the screenings and conventions.”
“When incumbent Democrat Congressman Jeff Van Drew switched parties after nearly 30 years as a Democrat apparatchik, several county chairmen promised that neither their endorsements nor the awarding of their organizational lines would be arbitrary or automatic,” Patterson said. “Despite those early promises, nearly all of the county chairs of South Jersey have since publicly endorsed Van Drew for re-election — even in counties that have yet to hold their screenings or conventions.”
Patterson is the last remaining challenger to Van Drew, who switched parties in December after refusing to vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
The other two candidates, David Richter and Brian Fitzherbert, dropped out of the race last month. Richter switched to the 3rd district and is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton).
According to Patterson, some Republican county committee members were threatened that supporting him would come with repercussions.
“Some have told me that in order to receive a ‘VIP pass’ to the (Trump) Wildwood rally, they were asked to sign loyalty pledges or endorsements of Van Drew,” he said. “This kind of arm twisting is an affront to all of us who have watched our party suffer under the thumb of the Norcross Machine and its favored son, Jeff Van Drew, for decades.”
Patterson has been critical of Van Drew’s record as a legislator and congressman, including sixteen votes to fund Planned Parenthood and sponsoring a resolution that condemned Trump as a racist.
“I know from quiet conversations that many committee members harbor the same reservations about entrusting our congressional seat to a ‘proud’ supporter of Planned Parenthood, a Johnny-come-lately supporter of the president, and a proven liberal, Patterson said. “I have never wavered in my support of President Trump, our conservative values, and our fight for South Jersey.”