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State Senator Michael Testa, Jr.
State Sen. Michael Testa (R-Vineland). (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

Testa backs Van Drew

Cumberland GOP chair backs former political rival

By Nikita Biryukov, January 09 2020 1:14 pm

State Sen. Michael Testa endorsed Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s (R-Dennis) re-election campaign Thursday.

“My full endorsement of him? He has it,” Testa said.

Van Drew is a recent addition to the Republican party, having defected last month after local Democrats warned he might have trouble winning a primary if he continued to oppose impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

Testa, who is Cumberland County Republican Chairman and an honorary co-chair of Trump’s New Jersey re-election campaign, previously said he would follow the president’s lead on Van Drew.

Before his party switch, Van Drew and the second congressional district’s Republicans often found themselves opposite one another.

Some Republican chairs, including Cape May County Republican Chairman Marcus Karavan, signaled they wouldn’t back Van Drew if he flipped parties.

Much of the district’s organizational support has since coalesced behind Van Drew.

On Thursday he, Testa and Testa’s Assembly running mates, Assemblymen-elect Antwan McClellan and Erik Simonsen, and Van Drew jointly endorsed Karavan for another term as Cape May’s GOP chair.

“Chairman Karavan has done an amazing job of leading the Cape May County Republican party, fielding and supporting excellent candidates and staying true to the conservative values and founding principles that make America great,” Congressman Van Drew said.  “It is critical that the CapeGOP remain united and focused on its mission, under Marcus’s proven leadership, as we move into the 2020 campaign season.”

The optics of Van Drew’s party switch — that of a Democrat leaving the party over a belief it had lost its way on impeachment — play well into the White House narrative on impeachment, and national Republicans have taken some pains to attempt to clear the Republican field for Van Drew.

Those efforts haven’t been enough to force any of his opponents out of the race.

The three candidates that were in the race before Van Drew’s December defection — David Richter, Brian Fitzherbert and Robert Patterson — remain in the race despite the organizational tide moving in the incumbent’s favor.

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