Republican House candidate David Richter won’t back out of the race if Rep. Jeff Van Drew decides to run for re-election as a Republican.
“Hypothetically, if he switches and becomes Republican, I’m in the race, and I’m going to beat him in the primary,” Richter said. “He has no chance of getting the Republican party to support him, a lifelong Democrat, and get the party’s nomination to run in 2020.”
Van Drew, a right-of-center Democrat whose defenses of President Donald Trump have defined him a year into his first term, is facing increased discontent form his base over his stance on impeachment.
Earlier this week, Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman warned Van Drew that he could not guarantee a primary win if the former state senator continued to oppose impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Van Drew was one of two Democrats to vote against a resolution establishing procedures for the public portion of the House impeachment inquiry, and speculation about a potential party switch has been growing over recent days.
It only redoubled after Van Drew told CNN he would vote against all articles of impeachment against the President Thursday.
Some Republican leaders in the second district, including Cape May County Republican Chairman Marcus Karavan, have publicly signaled that they would not welcome Van Drew into the fold.
Richter said he doesn’t expect it to come to that, nor does he expect to face Van Drew at the polls before next November.
“I don’t expect that Jeff’s going to switch parties. He’s been a Democrat his whole life,” he said. “In fact, I think any day now, he’s going to be at a fundraiser with Bob Menendez and Phil Murphy. They’re going to raise money for him. They’re not doing that if they think he’s going to switch parties.”